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,.;:;;;:\  THE 
KAINBOW 


X  AW  RE  N  C  B 


11  MM 


niim 

« 


-l* 

'" 


THE    RAINBOW 


THE    MODERN    LIBRARY 

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THE 
RAINBOW 


BY 
D.  H.  LAWRENCE 


THE 

MODERN  LIBRARY 

NEW  YORK 


COPYRIGHT,    I  9  I  5,  BY  D.  H.  LAWRENCE 


Random  House 


IS    THE    PUBLISHER    OF 


THE     MODERN     LIBRARY 

BENNETT    A.    CERF    •     DONALD    S.   KLOPFER    •    ROBERT    K.   HAAS 

Manufactured  in  the  United  States  of  America 
Printed  by  Parkway  Printing  Company         Bound  by  H.  Wolff 


TO  ELSE 


CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

I  How  TOM  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY      1 

II    THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH 43 

III  CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY 74 

IV  GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN 89 

V    WEDDING  AT  THE  MARSH 123 

VI  ANNA  VICTRIX   .      .      .     ,      .     .  .    .     .     .      .  134 

VII    THE  CATHEDRAL 185 

VIII     THE  CHILD 198 

IX  THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  .     .  /    .     .     .     .225 

X    THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE 245 

XI     FIRST  LOVE 266 

XII     SHAME 315 

XIII  THE  MAN'S  WORLD .333 

XIV  THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE 390 

XV    THE  BITTERNESS  OF  ECSTASY 404 

XVI  THE  KAINBOW   ,                                                 .  456 


THE  RAINBOW 

CHAPTER  I 

HOW  TOM  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY 


THE  Brangwens  had  lived  for  generations  on  the 
Marsh  Farm,  in  the  meadows  where  the  Erewash 
twisted  sluggishly  through  alder  trees,  separating 
Derbyshire  from  Nottinghamshire.  Two  miles 
away,  a  church-tower  stood  on  a  hill,  the  houses  of  the  little 
country  town  climbing  assiduously  up  to  it.  Whenever  one 
of  the  Brangwens  in  the  fields  lifted  his  head  from  his  work, 
he  saw  the  church-tower  at  Ilkeston  in  the  empty  sky.  So 
that  as  he  turned  again  to  the  horizontal  land,  he  was  aware 
of  something  standing  above  him  and  beyond  him  in  the  dis- 
tance. 

There  was  a  look  in  the  eyes  of  the  Brangwens  as  if  they 
were  expecting  something  unknown,  about  which  they  were 
eager.  They  had  that  air  of  readiness  for 'what  would  come 
to  them,  a  kind  of  surety,  an  expectancy,  the  look  of  an 
inheritor. 

They  were  fresh,  blond,  slow-speaking  people,  revealing 
themselves  plainly,  but  slowly,  so  that  one  could  watch  the 
change  in  their  eyes  from  laughter  to  anger,  blue,  Kt-up 
laughter,  to  a  hard  blue-staring  anger;  through  all  the  irreso* 
lute  stages  of  the  sky  when  the  weather  is  changing. 

Living  on  rich  land,  on  their  own  land,  near  to  a  growing 
town,  they  had  forgotten  what  it  was  to  be  in  straitened 
circumstances.  They  had  never  become  rich,  because  there 
were  always  children,  and  the  patrimony  was  divided  every 
time.  But  always,  at  the  Marsh,  there  was  ample. 

So  the  Brangwens  came  and  went  without  fear  of  neces- 
sity, working  hard  because  of  the  life  that  was  in  them,  not 
for  want  of  the  money.  Neither  were  they  thriftless.  Thej 


2  THE  RAINBOW 

were  aware  of  the  last  halfpenny,  and  instinct  made  them 
not  waste  the  peeling  of  their  apple,  for  it  would  help  to  feed 
the  cattle.  But  heaven  and  ci.J:h  wao  teeming  around  them, 
and  how  should  this  cease?  They  felt  the  rush  of  the  sap 
in  spring,  they  knew  the  wave  which  cannot  halt,  but  every 
year  throws  forward  the  seed  to  begetting,  and,  falling  back, 
leaves  the  young-born  on  the  earth.  They  knew  the  inter- 
course between  heaven  and  earth,  sunshine  drawn  into  the 
breast  and  bowels,  the  rain  sucked  up  in  the  daytime,  naked- 
ness that  comes  under  the  wind  in  autumn,  showing  the  birds' 
nests  no  longer  worth  hiding.  Their  life  and  interrelations 
were  such;  feeling  the  pulse  and  body  of  the  soil,  that 
opened  to  their  furrow  for  the  grain,  and  became  smooth  and 
supple  after  their  ploughing,  and  clung  to  their  feet  with 
a  weight  that  pulled  like  desire,  lying  hard  and  unresponsive 
when  the  crops  were  to  be  shorn  away.  The  young  corn 
waved  and  was  silken,  and  the  lustre  slid  along  the  limbs  of 
the  men  who  saw  it.  They  took  the  udder  of  the  cows,  the 
cows  yielded  milk  and  pulse  against  the  hands  of  the  men, 
the  pulse  of  the  blood  of  the  teats  of  the  cows  beat  into  the 
pulse  of  the  hands  of  the  men.  They  mounted  their  horses, 
and  held  life  between  the  grip  of  their  knees,  they  harnessed 
their  horses  at  the  wagon,  and,  with  hand  on  the  bridle-rings, 
drew  the  heaving  of  the  horses  after  their  will. 

In  autumn  the  partridges  whirred  up,  birds  in  flocks  blew 
like  spray  across  -the  fallow,  .rooks  appeared  on  the  grey, 
watery  heavens,  and  flew  cawing  into  the  winter.  Then  the 
men  sat  by  the  fire  in  the  house  where  the  women  moved 
about  with  surety,  and  the  limbs  and  the  body  of  the  men 
were  impregnated  with  the  day,  cattle  and  earth  and  vege- 
tation and  the  sky,  the  men  sat  by  the  fire  and  their  brains 
were  inert,  as  their  blood  flowed  heavy  with  the  accumulation 
from  the  living  day. 

The  women  were  different.  On  them  too  was  the  drowse 
of  blood-intimacy,  calves  sucking  and  hens  running  together 
in  droves,  and  young  geese  palpitating  in  the  hand  while  the 
food  was  pushed  down  their  throttle.  But  the  women 
looked  out  from  the  heated,  blind  intercourse  of  farm-life, 
to  the  spoken  world  beyond.  They  were  aware  of  the  lips 
and  the  mind  of  the  world  speaking  and  giving  utterance, 
they  heard  the  sound  in  the  distance,  and  they  strained  to 
listen. 

It  was  enough  for  the  men,  that  the  earth  heaved  and 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       3 

opened  its  furrow  to  them,  that  the  wind  blew  to  dry  the 
wet  wheat,  and  set  the  young  ears  of  corn  wheeling  freshly 
round  about;  it  was  enough  that  they  helped  the  cow  in 
labour,  or  ferreted  the  rats  from  under  the  barn,  or  broke 
the  back  of  a  rabbit  with  a  sharp  knock  of  the  hand.  So 
much  warmth  and  generating  and  pain  and  death  did  they 
know  in  their  blood,  earth  and  sky  and  beast  and  green 
plants,  so  much  exchange  and  interchange  they  had  with 
these,  that  they  lived  full  and  surcharged,  their  senses  full 
fed,  their  faces  always  turned  to  the  heat  of  the  blood,  star- 
ing into  the  sun,  dazed  with  looking  towards  the  source  of 
generation,  unable  to  turn  round. 

.  But  the  woman  wanted  another  form  of  life  than  this, 
something  that  was  not  blood-intimacy.  Her  house  faced 
out  from  the  farm-buildings  and  fields,  looked  out  to  the 
road  and  the  village  with  church  and  Hall  and  the  world 
beyond.  She  stood  to  see  the  far-off  world  of  cities  and 
governments  and  the  active  scope  of  man,  the  magic  land 
to  her,  where  secrets  were  made  known  and  desires  fulfilled. 
She  faced  outwards  to  where  men  moved  dominant  and 
creative,  having  turned  their  back  on  the  pulsing  heat  of 
creation,  and  with  this  behind  them,  were  set  out  to  discover 
what  was  beyond,  to  enlarge  their  own  scope  and  range  and 
freedom;  whereas  the  Brangwen  men  faced  inwards  to  the 
teeming  life  of  creation,  which  poured  unresolved  into  their 
veins. 

Looking  out,  as  she  must,  from  the  front  of  her  house 
towards  the  activity  of  man  in  the  world  at  large,  whilst 
her  husband  looked  out  to  the  back  at  sky  and  harvest  and 
beast  and  land,  she  strained  her  eyes  to  see  what  man  had 
done  in  fighting  outwards  to  knowledge,  she  strained  to  hear 
how  he  uttered  himself  in  his  conquest,  her  deepest  desire 
hung  on  the  battle  that  she  heard,  far  off,  being  waged  on 
the  edge  of  tho  unknown.  She  also  wanted  to  know,  and 
to  be  of  the  fighting  host. 

At  home,  even  so  near  as  Cossethay,  was  the  vicar,  who 
spoke  the  other,  magic  language,  and  had  the  other,  finer 
bearing,  both  of  which  she  could  perceive,  but  could  never 
attain  to.  The  vicar  moved  in  worlds  beyond  where  her  own 
menfolk  existed.  Did  she  not  know  her  own  menfolk :  fresh, 
slow,  full-built  men,  masterful  enough,  but  easy,  native  to 
the  earth,  lacking  outwardness  and  range  of  motion. 
Whereas  the  vicar,  dark  and  dry  and  small  beside  her  hus- 


4  THE  RAINBOW 

band,  had  yet  a.  quickness  and  a  range  of  being  that  made 
Brangwen,  in  his  large  geniality,  seem  dull  and  local.  She 
knew  her  husband.  But  in  the  vicar's  nature  was  that  which 
passed  beyond  her  knowledge.  As  Brangwen  had  power  over 
the  cattle  so  the  vicar  had  power  over  her  husband.  What 
was  it  in  the  vicar,  that  raised  him  above  the  common  men 
as  man  is  raised  above  the  beast?  She  craved  to  know. 
She  craved  to  achieve  this  higher  being,  if  not  in  herself, 
then  in  her  children.  That  which  makes  a  man  strong  even 
if  he  be  little  and  frail  in  body,  just  as  any  man  is  little  and 
frail  beside  a  bull,  and  yet  stronger  than  the  bull,  what  was 
it  ?  It  was  not  money  nor  power  nor  position.  What  power 
had  the  vicar  over  Tom  Brangwen  —  none.  Yet  strip  them 
and  set  them  on  a  desert  island,  and  the  vicar  was  the  master. 
His  soul  was  master  of  the  other  man's.  And  why  —  why? 
She  decided  it  was  a  question  of  knowledge. 

The  curate  was  poor  enough,  and  not  very  efficacious  as 
a  man,  either,  yet  he  took  rank  with  those  others,  the  su- 
perior. She  watched  his  children  being  born,  she  saw  them 
running  as  tiny  things  beside  their  mother.  And  already 
they  were  separate  from  her  own  children,  distinct.  Why 
were  her  own  children  marked  below  those  others?  Why 
should  the  curate's  children  inevitably  take  precedence  over 
her  children,  why  should  dominance  be  given  them  from  the 
start?  It  was  not  money,  nor  even  class.  It  was  education 
and  experience,  she  decided. 

It  was  this,  this  education,  this  higher  form  of  being,  that 
the  mother  wished  to  give  to  her  children,  so  that  they  too 
could  live  the  supreme  life  on  earth.  For  her  children,  at 
least  the  children  of  her  heart,  had  the  complete  nature  that 
should  take  place  in  equality  with  the  living,  vital  people 
in  the  land,  not  be  left  behind  obscure  among  the  labourers. 
Why  must  they  remain  obscured  and  stifled  all  their  lives, 
why  should  they  suffer  from  lack  of  freedom  to  move  ?  How 
should  they  learn  the  entry  into  the  finer,  more  vivid  circle  of 
life? 

Her  imagination  was  fired  by  the  squire's  lady  at  Shelly 
Hall,  who  came  to  church  at  Cossethay  with  her  little  chil- 
dren, girls  in  tidy  capes  of  beaver  fur,  and  smart  little  hats, 
herself  like  a  winter  rose,  so  fair  and  delicate.  So  fair,  so 
fine  in  mould,  so  luminous,  what  was  it  that  Mrs.  Hardy  felt 
which  she,  Mrs.  Brangwen,  did  not  feel?  How  was  Mrs. 
Hardv's  nature  different  from  that  of  the  common  women 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY      5 

of  Cossethay,  in  what  was  it  beyond  them?  All  the  women 
of  Cossethay  talked  eagerly  about  Mrs.  Hardy,  of  her  hus- 
band, her  children,  her  guests,  her  dress,  of  -her  servants  and 
her  housekeeping.  The  lady  of  the  Hall  was  the  living 
dream  of  their  lives,  her  life  waz  the  epic  that  inspired  their 
lives.  In  her  they  lived  imaginatively,  and  in  gossiping  of 
her  husband  who  drank,  of  her  scandalous  brother,  of  Lord 
William  Bentley  her  friend,  member  of  Parliament  for  the 
division,  they  had  their  own  Odyssey  enacting  itself,  Penelope 
and  Ulysses  before  them,  and  Circe  and  the  swine  and  the 
endless  web. 

So  the  women  of  the  village  were  fortunate.  They  saw 
themselves  in  the  lady  of  the  manor,  each  of  them  lived  her 
own  fulfilment  in  the  life  of  Mrs.  Hardy.  And  the  Brang- 
wen  wife  of  the  Marsh  aspired  beyond  herself,  towards  the 
further  life  of  the  finer  woman,  towards  the  extended  being 
she  revealed,  as  a  traveller  in  his  self-contained  manner  re- 
veals far-off  countries  present  in  himself.  But  why  should 
a  knowledge  of  far-off  countries  make  a  man's  life  a  different 
thing,  finer,  bigger  ?  And  why  is  a  man  more  than  the  beast 
and  the  cattle  that  serve  him?  It  is  the  same  thing. 

The  male  part  of  the  poem  was  filled  in  by  such  men  as 
the  vicar  and  Lord  William,  lean,  eager  men  with  strange 
movements,  men  who  had  command  of  the  further  fields^. 
whose  lives  ranged  over  a  great  extent.  Ah,  it  was  some^ 
thing  very  desirable  to  know,  this  touch  of  the  wonderful 
men  who  had  the  power  of  thought  and  comprehension.  The 
women  of  the  village  might  be  much  fonder  of  Tom  Brang- 
wen,  and  more  at  their  ease  with  him,  yet  if  their  lives  had 
been  robbed  of  the  vicar,  and  of  Lord  William,  the  leading 
shoot  would  have  been  cut  away  from  them,  they  would  have 
been  heavy  and  uninspired  and  inclined  to  hate.  So  long  as 
the  wonder  of  the  beyond  was  before  them,  they  could  get 
along,  whatever  their 'lot.  And  Mrs.  Hardy,  and  the  vicar, 
and  Lord  William,  these  moved  in  the  wonder  of  the  beyond, 
and  were  visible  to  the  eyes  of  Cossethay  in  their  motion. 

II 

About  1840,  a  canal  was  constructed  across  the  meadows 
of  the  Marsh  Farm,  connecting  the  newly-opened  collieries 
of  the  Erewash  Valley.  A  high  embankment  travelled  along 
the  fields  to  carry  the  canal,  which  passed  close  to  the  home- 
stead, and,  reaching  the  road,  went  over  in  a  heavy  bridge. 


6  THE  RAINBOW 

So  the  Marsh  was  shut  off  from  Ilkeston,  and  enclosed  in 
the  small  valley  bed,  which  ended  in  a  bushy  hill  and  the 
village  spire  of  Cossethay. 

The  Brangwens  received  a  fair  sum  of  money  from  this 
trespass  across  their  land.  Then,  a  short  time  afterwards,  a 
colliery  was  sunk  on  the  other  side  of  the  canal,  and  in  a 
while  the  Midland  Railway  came  down  the  valley  at  the  foot 
of  the  Tlkeston  hill,  and  the  invasion  was  complete.  The 
town  grew  rapidly,  the  Brangwens  were  kept  busy  producing 
supplies,  they  became  richer,  they  were  almost  tradesmen. 

Still  the  Marsh  remained  remote  and  original,  on  the  old, 
quiet  side  of  the  canal  embankment,  in  the  sunny  valley  where 
slow  water  wound  along  in  company  of  stiff  alders,  and  the 
road  went  under  ash-trees  past  the  Brangwens'  garden  gate. 

But,  looking  from  the  garden  gate  down  the  road  to  the 
right,  there,  through  the  dark  archway  of  the  canal's  square 
aqueduct,  was  a  colliery  spinning  away  in  the  near  distance, 
and  further,  red,  crude  houses  plastered  on  the  valley  in 
masses,  and  beyond  all,  the  dim  smoking  hill  of  the  town. 

The  homestead  was  just  on  the  safe  side  of  civilization, 
outside  the  gate.  The  house  stood  bare  from  the  road,  ap- 
proached by  a  straight  garden  path,  along  which  at  spring 
the  daffodils  were  thick  in  green  and  yellow.  At  the  sides 
of  the  house  were  bushes  of  lilac  and  guelder-rose  and  privet, 
entirely  hiding  the  farm  buildings  behind. 

At  the  back  a  confusion  of  sheds  spread  into  the  home- 
close  from  out  of  two  or  three  indistinct  yards.  The  duck- 
pond  lay  beyond  the  furthest  wall,  littering  its  white  feathers 
on  the  padded  earthen  banks,  blowing  its  stray  soiled  feathers 
into  the  grass  and  the  gorse  bushes  below  the  canal  embank- 
ment, which  rose  like  a  high  rampart  near  at  hand,  so  that 
occasionally  a  man's  figure  passed  in  silhouette,  or  a  man  and 
a  towing  horse  traversed  the  sky. 

At  first  the  Brangwens  were  astonished  bv  all  this  com- 
motion around  them.  The  building  of  a  canal  across  their 
land  made  them  strangers  in  their  own  place,  this  raw  bank 
of  earth  shutting  them  off  disconcerted  them.  As  they 
worked  in  the  fields,  from  beyond  the  now  familiar  embank- 
ment came  the  rhythmic  run  of  the  winding  engines,  startling 
at  first,  but  afterwards  a  narcotic  to  the  brain.  Then  the 
shrill  whistle  of  the  trains  re-echoed  through  the  heart,  with 
fearsome  pleasure,  announcing  the  far-off  come  near  and 
imminent. 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY      7 

As  they  drove  home  from  town,  the  farmers  of  the  land 
met  the  blackened  colliers  trooping  from  the  pit-mouth.  As 
they  gathered  the  harvest,  the  west  wind  brought  a  faint, 
sulphurous  smell  of  pit-refuse  burning.  As  they  pulled  the 
turnips  in  November,  the  sharp  clink-clink-clink-clink-clink 
of  empty  trucks  shunting  on  the  line,  vibrated  in  their  hearts 
with  the  fact  of  other  activity  going  on  beyond  them. 

The  Alfred  Brangwen  of  this  period  had  married  a  woman 
from  Heanor,  daughter  of  the  "  Black  Horse."  She  was  a 
slim,  pretty,  dark  woman,  quaint  in  her  speech,  whimsical, 
so  that  the  sharp  things  she  said  did  not  hurt.  She  was  oddly 
a  thing  to  herself,  rather  querulous  in  her  manner,  but  in- 
trinsically separate  and  indifferent,  so  that  her  long  lamen- 
table complaints,  when  she  raised  her  voice  against  her  hus- 
band in  particular  and  against  everybody  else  after  him, 
only  made  those  who  heard  her  wonder  and  feel  affectionately 
towards  her,  even  whilst  they  were  irritated  and  impatient 
with  her.  She  railed  long  and  loud  about  her  husband,  but 
always  with  a  balanced,  easy-flying  voice  and  a  quaint  man- 
ner of  speech  that  warmed  his  belly  with  pride  and  male 
triumph  whilst  he  scowled  with  mortification  at  the  things 
she  said. 

Consequently  Brangwen  himself  had  a  humorous  puckering 
at  the  eyes,  a  sort  of  fat  laugh,  very  quiet  and  full,  and  he 
was  spoilt  like  a  lord  of  creation.  He  calmly  did  as  he  liked, 
laughed  at  her  railing,  excused  himself  in  a  teasing  tone  that 
she  loved,  followed  his  natural  inclinations,  and  sometimes, 
pricked  too  near  the  quick,  frightened  and  broke  her  by  a 
deep,  tense  fury  which  seemed  to  fix  on  him  and  hold  him 
for  days,  and  which  she  would  give  anything  to  placate  in 
him.  They  were  two  very  separate  beings,  vitally  connected, 
knowing  nothing  of  each  other,  yet  living  in  their  separate 
ways  from  one  root. 

There  were  four  sons  and  two  daughters.  The  eldest  boy 
ran  away  early  to  sea,  and  did  not  come  back.  After  this 
the  mother  was  more  the  node  and  centre  of  attraction  in 
the  home.  The  second  boy,  Alfred,  whom  the  mother  ad- 
mired most,  was  the  most  reserved.  He  was  sent  to  school  in 
Ilkeston  and  made  some  progress.  But  in  spite  of  his 
dogged,  yearning  effort,  he  could  not  get  beyond  the  rudi- 
ments of  anything,  save  of  drawing.  At  this,  in  which  he 
had  some  power,  he  worked,  as  if  it  were  his  hope.  After 
much  grumbling  and  savage  rebellion  against  everything. 


8  THE  RAINBOW 

after  much  trying  and  shifting  about,  when  his  father  was 
incensed  against  him  and  his  mother  almost  despairing,  he 
became  a  draughtsman  in  a  lace-factory  in  Nottingham. 

He  remained  heavy  and  somewhat  uncouth,  speaking  with 
broad  Derbyshire  accent,  adhering  with  all  his  tenacity  to 
his  work  and  to  his  town  position,  making  good  designs,  and 
becoming  fairly  well-off.  But  at  drawing,  his  hand  swung 
naturally  in  big,  bold  lines,  rather  lax,  so  that  it  was  cruel 
for  him  to  pedgill  away  at  the  lace  designing,  working  from 
the  tiny  squares  of  his  paper,  counting  and  plotting  and 
niggling.  He  did  it  stubbornly,  with  anguish,  crushing  the 
bowels  within  him,  adhering  to  his  chosen  lot  whatever  it 
should  cost.  And  he  came  back  into  life  set  and  rigid,  a  rare- 
spoken,  almost  surly  man. 

He  married  the  daughter  of  a  chemist,  who  affected  some 
social  superiority,  and  he  became  something  of  a  snob,  in 
his  dogged  fashion,  with  a  passion  for  outward  refinement 
in  the  household,  mad  when  anything  clumsy  or  gross  oc- 
curred. Later,  when  his  three  children  were  growing  up, 
and  he  seemed  a  staid,  almost  middle-aged  man,  he  turned 
ifter  strange  women,  and  became  a  silent,  inscrutable  fol- 
ower  of  forbidden  pleasure,  neglecting  his  indignant  bour- 
geois wife  without  a  qualm. 

Frank,  the  third  son,  refused  from  the  first  to  have  any- 
;hing  to  do  with  learning.  From  the  first  he  hung  round  the 
slaughter-house  which  stood  away  in  the  third  yard  at  the 
back  of  the  farm.  The  Brangwens  had  always  killed  their 
own  meat,  and  supplied  the  neighbourhood.  Out  of  this 
grew  a  regular  butcher's  business  in  connection  with  the  farm. 

As  a  child  Frank  had  been  drawn  by  the  trickle  of  dark 
blood  that  ran  across  the  pavement  from  the  slaughter- 
house to  the  crew-yard,  by  the  sight  of  the  man  carrying 
across  to  the  meat-shed  a'  huge  side  of  beef,  with  the  kidneys 
showing,  embedded  in  their  heavy  laps  of  fat. 

He  was  a  handsome  lad  with  soft  brown  hair  and  regular 
features  something  like  a  later  Roman  youth.  He  was  more 
easily  excitable,  more  readily  carried  away  than  the  rest, 
weaker  in  character.  At  eighteen  he  married  a  little  factory 
girl,  a  pale,  plump,  quiet  thing  with  sly  eyes  and  a  wheedling 
vx>ice,  who  insinuated  herself  into  him  and  bore  him  a  child 
every  year  and  made  a  fool  of  him.  When  he  had  taken 
over  the  butchery  business,  already  a  growing  callousness 
to  it,  and  a  sort  of  contempt  made  him  neglectful  of  it.  He 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY      9 

drank,  and  was  often  to  be  found  in  his  public  house  blather- 
ing away  as  if  he  knew  everything,  when  in  reality  he  was  a 
noisy  fool. 

Of  the  daughters,  Alice,  the  elder,  married  a  collier  and 
lived  for  a  time  stormily  in  Ilkeston,  before  moving  away 
to  Yorkshire  with  her  numerous  young  family.  Effie,  the 
younger,  remained  at  home. 

The  last  child,  Tom,  was  considerably  younger  than  his 
brothers,  so  had  belonged  rather  to  the  company  of  his 
sisters.  He  was  his  mother's  favourite.  She  roused  herself 
to  determination,  and  sent  him  forcibly  away  to  a  grammar- 
school  in  Derby  when  he  was  twelve  years  old.  He  did  not 
want  to  go,  and  his  father  would  have  given  way,  but  Mrs. 
Brangwen  had  set  her  heart  on  it.  Her  slender,  pretty, 
tightly-covered  body,  with  full  skirts,  was  now  the  centre 
of  resolution  in  the  house,  and  when  she  had  once  set  upon 
anything,  which  was  not  often,  the  family  failed  before  her. 

So  Tom  went  to  school,  an  unwilling  failure  from  the  first. 
He  believed  his  mother  was  right  in  decreeing  school  for  him. 
but  he  knew  she  was  only  right  because  she  would  not  ac- 
knowledge his  constitution.  He  knew,  with  a  child's  deepv 
instinctive  foreknowledge  of  what  is  going  to  happen  to  him- 
that  he  would  cut  a  sorry  figure  at  school.  But  he  took  the 
infliction  as  inevitable,  as  if  he  were  guilty  of  his  own  nature, 
as  if  his  being  were  wrong,  and  his  mother's  conception  right. 
If  he  could  have  been  what  he  liked,  -he  would  have  been  that 
which  his  mother  fondly  but  deludedly  hoped  he  was.  He 
would  have  been  clever,  and  capable  of  becoming  a  gentle- 
man. It  was  her  aspiration  for  him,  therefore  he  knew  it 
as  the  true  aspiration  for  any  boy.  But  you  can't  make  a 
silk  purse  out  of  a  sow's  ear,  as  he  told  his  mother  very  early, 
with  regard  to  himself;  much  to  her  mortification  and 
chagrin. 

When  he  got  to  school,  he  made  a  violent  struggle  against 
his  physical  inability  to  study.  He  sat  gripped,  making 
himself  pale  and  ghastly  in  his  effort  to  concentrate  on  the 
book,  to  take  in  what  he  had  to  learn.  But  it  was  no  good. 
If  he  beat  down  his  first  repulsion,  and  got  like  a  suicide  to 
the  stuff,  he  went  very  little  further.  He  could  not  learn 
deliberately.  His  mind  simply  did  not  work. 

In  feeling  he  was  developed,  sensitive  to  the  atmosphere 
around  him,  brutal  perhaps,  but  at  the  same  time  delicate, 
very  delicate.  So  he  bad  a  low  opinion  of  himself.  He  knew 


10  THE  RAINBOW 

his  own  limitation.  He  knew  that  his  brain  was  a  slow  hope- 
less good-for-nothing.  *  So  he  was  humble. 

But  at  the  same  time  his  feelings  were  more  discriminating 
than  those  of  most  of  the  boys,  and  he  was  confused.  He 
was  more  sensuously  developed,  more  refined  in  instinct  than 
they.  For  their  mechanical  stupidity  he  hated  them,  and 
suffered  cruel  contempt  for  them.  But  when  it  came  to 
mental  things,  then  he  was  at  a  disadvantage.  He  was  at 
their  mercy.  He  was  a  fool.  He  had  not  the  power  to 
controvert  even  the  most  stupid  argument,  so  that  he  was 
forced  to  admit  things  he  did  not  in  the  least  believe.  And 
having  admitted  them,  he  did  not  know  whether  he  believed 
them  or  not;  he  rather  thought  he  did. 

But  he  loved  any  one  who  could  convey  enlightenment  to 
him  through  feeling.  He  sat  betrayed  with  emotion  when 
the  teacher  of  literature  read,  in  a  moving  fashion,  Tennyson's 
"  Ulysses,"  or  Shelley's  "  Ode  to  the  West  Wind."  His  lips 
parted,  his  eyes  filled  with  a  strained,  almost  suffering  light. 
And  the  teacher  read  on,  fired  by  his  power  over  the  boy. 
Tom  Brangwen  was  moved  by  this  experience  beyond  all 
calculation,  he  almost  dreaded  it,  it  was  so  deep.  But  when, 
almost  secretly  and  shamefully,  he  came  to  take  the  book  him- 
self, and  began  the  words  "Oh  wild  west  wind,  thou  breath 
of  autumn's  being,"  the  very  fact  of  the  print  caused  a  prickly 
sensation  of  repulsion  to  go  over  his  skin,  the  blood  came  to 
his  face,  his  heart  filled  with  a  bursting  passion  of  rage  and 
incompetence.  He  threw  the  book  down  and  walked  over  it 
and  went  out  to  the  cricket  field.  And  he  hated  books  as  if 
they  were  his  enemies.  He  hated  them  worse  than  ever  he 
hated  any  person. 

He  could  not  voluntarily  control  his  attention.  His  mind 
had  no  fixed  habits  to  go  by,  he  had  nothing  to  get  hold  of, 
nowhere  to  start  from.  For  him  there  was  nothing  palpable, 
nothing  known  in  himself,  that  he  could  apply  to  learning. 
He  did  not  know  how  to  begin.  Therefore  he  was  helpless 
when  it  came  to  deliberate  understanding  or  deliberate  learn- 
ing. 

He  had  an  instinct  for  mathematics,  but  if  this  failed  him, 
he  was  helpless  as  an  idiot.  So  that  he  felt  that  the  ground 
was  never  sure  under  his  feet,  he  was  nowhere.  His  final 
downfall  was  his  complete  inability  to  attend  to  a  question 
put  without  suggestion.  If  he  had  to  write  a  formal  com- 
position on  the  Army,  he  did  at  last  learn  to  repeat  the  few 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       11 

facts  he  knew :  "  You  can  join  the  army  at  eighteen.  You 
have  to  be  over  five  foot  eight."  But  he  had  all  the  time  a 
living  conviction  that  this  was  a  dodge  and  that  his  common- 
places were  beneath  contempt.  Then  he  reddened  furiously, 
felt  his  bowels  sink  with  shame,  scratched  out  what  he  had 
written,  made  an  agonized  effort  to  think  of  something  in 
the  real  composition  style,  failed,  became  sullen  with  rage 
and  humiliation,  put  the  pen  down  and  would  have  been  torn 
to  pieces  rather  than  attempt  to  write  another  word. 

He  soon  got  used  to  the  Grammar  School,  and  the  Grammar 
School  got  used  to  him,  setting  him  down  as  a  hopeless  duffer 
at  learning,  but  respecting  him  for  a  generous,  honest  nature. 
Only  one  narrow,  domineering  fellow,  the  Latin  master, 
bullied  him  and  made  the  blue  eyes  mad  with  shame  and 
rage.  There  was  a  horrid  scene,  when  the  boy  laid  open  the 
master's  head  with  a  slate,  and  then  things  went  on  as  be- 
fore. The  teacher  got  little  sympathy.  But  Brangwen 
winced  and  could  not  bear  to  think  of  the  deed,  not  even 
long  after,  when  he  was  a  grown  man. 

He  was  glad  to  leave  school.  It  had  not  been  unpleasant, 
he  had  enjoyed  the  companionship  of  the  other  youths,  or 
had  thought  he  enjoyed  it,  the  time  had  passed  very  quickly, 
in  endless  activity.  But  he  knew  all  the  time  that  he  was 
in  an  ignominious  position,  in  this  place  of  learning.  He  was 
aware  of  failure  all  the  while,  of  incapacity.  But  he  was  too 
healthy  and  sanguine  to  be  wretched,  he  was  too  much  alive. 
Yet  his  soul  was  wretched  almost  to  hopelessness. 

He  had  loved  one  warm.,  clever  boy  who  was  frail  in  body, 
a  consumptive  type.  The  two  had  had  an  almost  classic 
friendship,  David  and  Jonathan,  wherein  Brangwen  was  the 
Jonathan,  the  server.  But  he  had  never  felt  equal  with 
his  friend,  because  the  other's  mind  outpaced  his,  and  left 
him  ashamed,  far  in  the  rear.  So  the  two  boys  went  at  once 
apart  on  leaving  school.  But  Brangwen  always  remembered 
his  friend  that  had  been,  kept  him  as  a  sort  of  light,  a  fine 
experience  to  remember. 

Tom  Brangwen  was  glad  to  get  back  to  the  farm,  where 
he  was  in  his  own  again.  "  I  have  got  a  turnip  on  my  shoul- 
ders, let  me  stick  to  th'  fallow,"  he  said  to  his  exasperated 
mother.  He  had  too  low  an  opinion  of  himself.  But  he 
went  about  at  his  work  on  the  farm  gladly  enough,  glad  of 
the  active  labour  and  the  smell  of  the  land  again,  having 
youth  and  vigour  and  humour,  and  a  comic  wit,  having  the 


12  THE  RAINBOW 

will  and  the  power  to  forget  his  own  shortcomings,  finding 
himself  violent  with  occasional  rages,  but  usually  on  good 
terms  with  everybody  and  everything. 

When  he  was  seventeen,  his  father  fell  from  a  stack  and 
broke  his  neck.  Then  the  mother  and  son  and  daughter 
lived  on  at  the  farm,  interrupted  by  occasional  loud-mouthed 
lamenting,  jealous-spirited  visitations  from  the  butcher 
Frank,  who  had  a  grievance  against  the  world,  which  he  felt 
was  always  giving  him  less  than  his  dues.  Frank  was  par- 
ticularly against  the  young  Tom,  whom  he  called  a  mardy 
baby,  and  Tom  returned  the  hatred  violently,  his  face  grow- 
ing red  and  his  blue  eyes  staring.  Effie  sided  with  Tom 
against  Frank.  But  when  Alfred  came,  from  Nottingham, 
heavy  jowled  and  lowering,  speaking  very  little,  but  treating 
those  at  home  with  some  contempt,  Effie  and  the  mother 
sided  with  him  and  put  Tom  into  the  shade.  It  irritated  the 
youth  that  his  elder  brother  should  be  made  something  of  a 
hero  by  the  women,  just  because  he  didn't  live  at  home  and 
was  a  lace-designer  and  almost  a  gentleman.  But  Alfred 
was  something  of  a  Prometheus  Bound,  so  the  women  loved 
him.  Tom  came  later  to  understand  his  brother  better. 

As  youngest  fcon,  Tom  felt  some  importance  when  the  care 
of  the  farm  devolved  on  to  him.  He  was  only  eighteen,  but 
he  was  quite  capable  of  doing  everything  his  father  had  done. 
And  of  course,  his  mother  remained  as  centre  to  the  house. 

The  young  man  grew  up  very  fresh  and  alert,  with  zest 
for  every  moment  of  life.  He  worked  and  rode  and  drove  to 
market,  he  went  out  with  companions  and  got  tipsy  occa- 
sionally and  played  skittles  and  went  to  the  little  travelling 
theatres.  Once,  when  he  was  drunk  at  a  public  house,  he 
went  upstairs  with  a  prostitute  who  seduced  him.  He  was 
then  nineteen. 

The  thing  was  something  of  a  shock  to  him.  In  the  close 
intimacy  of  the  farm  kitchen,  the  woman  occupied  the  su- 
preme position.  The  men  deferred  to  her  in  the  house,  on 
all  household  points,  on  all  points  of  morality  and  behaviour. 
The  woman  was  the  symbol  for  that  further  life  which  com- 
prised religion  and  love  and  morality.  The  men  placed  in 
her  hands  their  own  conscience,  they  said  to  her  "  Be  my 
conscience-keeper,  be  the  angel  at  the  doorway  guarding  my 
outgoing  and  my  incoming."  And  the  woman  fulfilled  her 
trust,  the  men  rested  implicitly  in  her,  receiving  her  praise 
or  her  blame  with  pleasure  or  with  anger,  rebelling  and 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       13 

storming,  but  never  for  a  moment  really  escaping  in  their 
own  souls  from  her  prerogative.  They  depended  on  her  for 
their  stability.  Without  her,  they  would  have  felt  like  straws 
in  the  wind,  to  be  blown  hither  and  thither  at  random.  She 
was  the  anchor  and  the  security,  she  was  the  restraining  hand 
of  God,  at  times  highly  to  be  execrated. 

Now  when  Tom  Brangwen,  at  nineteen,  a  youth  fresh  like 
a  plant,  rooted  in  his  mother  and  his  sister,  found  that  he 
had  lain  with  a  prostitute  woman  in  a  common  public  house, 
he  was?  very  much  startled.  For  him  there  was  until  that 
time  only  one  kind  of  woman  —  his  mother  and  sister. 

But  nov?  He  did  not  know  what  to  feel.  There  was  a 
slight  wonder,  a  pang  of  anger,  of  disappointment,  a  first 
taste  of  ash  and  of  cold  fear  lest  this  was  all  that  would 
happen,  lest  his  relations  with  woman  were  going  to  be  no 
more  than  this  nothingness;  there  was  a  slight  sense  of 
shame  before  the  prostitute,  fear  that  she  would  despise  him 
for  his  inefficiency;  there  was  a  cold  distaste  for  her,  and  a 
fear  of  her;  there  was  a  moment  of  paralyzed  horror  when 
he  felt  he  might  have  taken  a  disease  from  her;  and  upon  all 
this  startled  tumult  of  emotion,  was  laid  the  steadying  hand 
of  common  sense,  which  said  it  did  not  matter  very  much,  so 
long  as  he  had  no  disease.  He  soon  recovered  balance,  and 
really  it  did  not  matter  so  very  much. 

But  it  had  shocked  him,  and  put  a  mistrust  into  his  heart, 
and  emphasized  his  fear  of  what  was  within  himself.  He 
was,  however,  in  a  few  days  going  about  again  in  his  own 
careless,  happy-go-lucky  fashion,  his  blue  eyes  just  as  clear 
and  honest  as  ever,  his  face  just  as  fresh,  his  appetite  just 
as  keen. 

Or  apparently  so.  He  had,  in  fact,  lost  some  of  his  buoy- 
ant confidence,  and  doubt  hindered  his  outgoing. 

For  some  time  after  this,  he  was  quieter,  more  conscious 
when  he  drank,  more  backward  from  companionship.  The 
disillusion  of  his  first  carnal  contact  with  woman,  strengthened 
by  his  innate  desire  to  find  in  a  woman  the  embodiment  of 
all  his  inarticulate,  powerful  religious  impulses,  put  a  bit  in 
his  mouth.  He  had  something  to  lose  which  he  was  afraid 
of  losing,  which  he  was  not  sure  even  of  possessing.  This 
first  affair  did  not  matter  much:  but  the  business  of  love 
was,  at  the  bottom  of  his  soul,  the  most  serious  and  terrifying 
of  all  to  him. 

He  was  tormented  now  with  sex  desire,  his  imagination 


14  THE  RAINBOW 

reverted  always  to  lustful  scenes.  But  what  really  prevented 
his  returning  to  a  loose  woman,  over  and  above  the  natural 
squeamishness,  was  the  recollection  of  the  paucity  of  the  last 
experience.  It  had  been  so  nothing,  so  dribbling  and  func- 
tional, that  he  was  ashamed  to  expose  himself  to  the  risk  of  a 
repetition  of  it. 

He  made  a  strong,  instinctive  fight  to  retain  his  native 
cheerfulness  unimpaired.  He  had  naturally  a  plentiful 
stream  of  life  and  humour,  a  sense  of  sufficiency  and  exuber- 
ance, giving  ease.  But  now  it  tended  to  cause  tension.  A 
strained  light  came  into  his  eyes,  he  had  a  slight  knitting  of 
the  brows.  His  boisterous  humour  gave  place  to  lowering 
silences,  and  days  passed  by  in  a  sort  of  suspense. 

He  did  not  know  there  was  any  difference  in  him,  exactly; 
for  the  most  part  he  was  filled  with  slow  anger  and  resent- 
ment. But  he  knew  he  was  always  thinking  of  women,  or 
a  woman,  day  in,  day  out,  and  that  infuriated  him.  He 
could  not  get  free:  and  he  was  ashamed.  He  had  one  or 
two  sweethearts,  starting  with  them  in  the  hope  of  speedy 
development.  But  when  he  had  a  nice  girl,  he  found  that 
he  was  incapable  of  pushing  the  desired  development.  The 
very  presence  of  the  girl  beside  him  made  it  impossible. 
He  could  not  think  of  her  like  that,  he  could  not  think  of  her 
actual  nakedness.  She  was  a  girl  and  he  liked  her,  and 
dreaded  violently  even  the  thought  of  uncovering  her.  He 
knew  that,  in  these  last  issues  of  nakedness,  he  did  not  exist 
to  her  nor  she  to  him.  Again,  if  he  had  a  loose  girl,  and 
things  began  to  develop,  she  offended  him  so  deeply  all  the 
time,  that  he  never  knew  whether  he  were  going  to  get  away 
from  her  as  quickly  as  possible,  or  whether  he  were  going  to 
take  her  out  of  inflamed  necessity.  Again  he  learnt  his  les- 
son: if  he  took  her  it  was  a  paucity  which  he  was  forced  to 
despise.  He  did  not  despise  himself  nor  the  girl.  But  he 
despised  the  net  result  in  him  of  the  experience  —  he  de- 
spised it  deeply  and  bitterly. 

Then,  when  he  was  twenty-three,  his  mother  died,  and  he 
was  left  at  home  with  Effie.  His  mother's  death  was  another 
blow  out  of  the  dark.  He  could  not  understand  it,  he  knew 
it  was  no  good  his  trying.  One  had  to  submit  to  these  un- 
foreseen blows  that  come  unawares  and  leave  a  bruise  that 
remains  and  hurts  whenever  it  is  touched.  He  began  to  be 
afraid  of  all  that  which  was  up  against  him.  He  had  loved 
his  mother. 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       15 

After  this,  Effie  and  he  quarrelled  fiercely.  They  meant 
a  very  great  deal  to  each  other,  but  they  were  both  under  a 
strange,  unnatural  tension.  He  stayed  out  of  the  house  as 
much  as  possible.  He  got  a  special  corner  for  himself  at 
the  Eed  Lion  at  Cossethay,  and  became  a  usual  figure  by 
the  fire,  a  fresh,  fair  young  fellow  with  heavy  limbs  and  head 
held  back,  mostly  silent,  though  alert  and  attentive,  very 
hearty  in  his  greeting  of  everybody  he  knew,  shy  of  strangers. 
He  teased  all  the  women,  who  liked  him  extremely,  and  he 
was  very  attentive  to  the  talk  of  the  men,  very  respectful. 

To  drink  made  him  quickly  flush  very  red  in  the  face,  and 
brought  out  the  look  of  self-consciousness  and  unsureness, 
almost  bewilderment,  in  his  blue  eyes.  When  he  came  home 
in  this  state  of  tipsy  confusion  his  sister  hated  him  and 
abused  him,  and  he  went  off  his  head,  like  a  mad  bull  with 
rage. 

He  had  still  another  turn  with  a  light-o'-love.  One  Whit- 
suntide he  went  a  jaunt  with  two  other  young  fellows,  on 
horseback,  to  Matlock  and  thence  to  Bakewell.  Matlock  was 
at  that  time  just  becoming  a  famous  beauty-spot,  visited 
from  Manchester  and  from  the  Staffordshire  towns.  In  the 
hotel  where  the  young  men  took  lunch,  were  two  girls,  and 
the  parties  struck  up  a  friendship. 

The  Miss  who  made  up  to  Tom  Brangwen,  then  twenty - 
four  years  old,  was  a  handsome,  reckless  girl  neglected  for 
an  afternoon  by  the  man  who  had  brought  her  out.  She  saw 
Brangwen,  and  liked  him,  as  all  women  did,  for  his  warmth 
and  his  generous  nature,  and  for  the  innate  delicacy  in  him. 
But  she  saw  he  was  one  who  would  have  to  be  brought  to  the 
scratch.  However,  she  was  roused  and  unsatisfied  and  made 
mischievous,  so  she  dared  anything.  It  would  be  an  easy  in- 
terlude, restoring  her  pride. 

She  was  a  handsome  girl  with  a  bosom,  and  dark  hair  and 
blue  eyes,  a  girl  full  of  easy  laughter,  flushed  from  the  sun,  in- 
clined to  wipe  her  laughing  face  in  a  very  natural  and  taking 
manner. 

Brangwen  was  in  a  state  of  wonder.  He  treated  her  with 
his  chaffing  deference,  roused,  but  very  unsure  of  himself, 
afraid  to  death  of  being  too  forward,  ashamed  lest  he  might 
be  thought  backward,  mad  with  desire  yet  restrained  by  in- 
stinctive regard  for  women  from  making  any  definite  ap- 
proach, feeling  all  the  while  that  hln  attitude  was  ridiculous, 
and  flushing  deep  with  confusion.  She,  however,  became  hard 


16  THE  RAINBOW 

and  daring  as  he  became  confused,  it  amused  her  to  see  him 
come  on. 

"  When  must  you  get  back  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  I'm  not  particular,"  he  said. 

There  the  conversation  again  broke  down. 

Brangwen's  companions  were  ready  to  go  on. 

"  Art  commin',  Tom,"  they  called,  "  or  art  for  stoppin'  ?  " 

e<  Ay,  I'm  commin',"  he  replied,  rising  reluctantly,  an 
angry  sense  of  futility  and  disappointment  spreading  over 
him. 

He  met  the  full,  almost  taunting  look  of  the  girl,  and  he 
trembled  with  unusedness. 

"  Shall  you  come  anr  have  a  look  at  my  mare,"  he  said 
to  her,  with  his  hearty  kindliness  that  was  now  shaken  with 
trepidation. 

"  Oh,  I  should  like  to,"  she  said,  rising. 

And  she  followed  him,  his  rather  sloping  shoulders  and 
his  cloth  riding-gaiters,  out  of  the  room.  The  young  men 
got  their  own  horses  out  of  the  stable. 

"  Can  you  ride  ?  "  Brangwen  asked  her. 

"  I  should  like  to  if  I  could  —  I  have  never  tried,"  she  said. 

"  Come  then,  an'  have  a  try,"  he  said. 

And  he  lifted  her,  he  blushing,  she  laughing,  into  the 
saddle. 

"  I  s'll  slip  off  —  it's  not  a  lady's  saddle,"  she  cried. 

"  Hold  yer  tight,"  he  said,  and  he  led  her  out  of  the  hotel 
gate. 

The  girl  sat  very  insecurely,  clinging  fast.  He  put  a  hand 
on  her  waist,  to  support  her.  And  he  held  her  closely,  he 
clasped  her  as  an  embrace,  he  was  weak  with  desire  as  he 
strode  beside  her. 

The  horse  walked  by  the  river. 

"  You  want  to  sit  straddle-leg,"  he  said  to  her. 

"  I  know  I  do,"  she  said. 

It  was  the  time  of' very  full  skirts.  She  managed  to  get 
astride  the  horse,  quite  decently,  showing  an  intent  concern 
for  covering  her  pretty  leg. 

"It's  a  lot's  better  this  road,"  she  said,  looking  down  at 
him. 

"  Ay,  it  is,"  he  said,  feeling  the  marrow  melt  in  his  bones 
from  the  look  in  her  eyes.  "I  dunno  why  they  have  that 
side-saddle  business,  twistin'  a  woman  in  two." 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       1? 

"  Should  us  leave  you  then  —  you  seem  to  be  fixed  up 
there  ?  "  called  Brangwen's  companions  from  the  road. 

He  went  red  with  anger. 

"Ay  —  don't  worry/'  he  called  back. 

"  How  long  are  yer  stoppin'  ?  "  they  asked. 

"Not  after  Christmas,"  he  said. 

And  the  girl  gave  a  tinkling  peal  of  laughter. 

"  All  right  —  by-bye !  "  called  his  friends. 

And  they  cantered  off,  leaving  him  very  flushed,  trying 
to  be  quite  normal  with  the  girl.  But  presently  he  had  gone 
back  to  the  hotel  and  given  his  horse  into  the  charge  of  an 
ostler  and  had  gone  off  with  the  girl  into  the  woods,  not 
quite  knowing  where  he  was  or  what  he  was  doing.  His 
heart  thumped  and  he  thought  it  the  most  glorious  adventure, 
and  was  mad  with  desire  for  the  girl. 

Afterwards  he  glowed  with  pleasure.  That  was  a  different 
experience.  He  wanted  to  see  more  of  the  girl.  She,  how- 
ever, told  him  this  was  impossible:  her  own  man  would  be 
back  by  dark,  and  she  must  be  with  him.  He,  Brangwen, 
must  not  let  on  that  there  had  been  anything  between  them. 

She  gave  him  an  intimate  smile,  which  made  him  feel  con- 
fused and  gratified. 

He  could  not  tear  himself  away,  though  he  had  promised 
not  to  interfere  with  the  girl.  He  stayed  on  at  the  hotel 
over  night.  He  saw  the  other  fellow  at  the  evening  meal :  a 
small,  middle-aged  man  with  iron-grey  hair  and  a  curious 
face,  like  a  monkey's,  but  interesting,  in  its  way  almost 
beautiful.  Brangwen  guessed  that  he  was  a  foreigner.  He 
was  in  company  with  another,  an  Englishman,  dry  and  hard. 
The  four  sat  at  table,  two  men  and  two  women.  Brang- 
wen watched  with  all  his  eyes. 

He  saw  how  the  foreigner  treated  the  women  with  courteous 
contempt,  as  if  they  were  pleasing  animals.  Brangwen's 
girl  had  put  on  a  ladylike  manner,  but  her  voice  betrayed 
her.  She  wanted  to  win  back  her  man.  When  dessert  came 
on,  however,  the  little  foreigner  turned  round  from  his  table 
and  calmly  surveyed  the  room,  like  one  unoccupied.  Brang- 
wen marvelled  over  the  cold,  animal  intelligence  of  the  face. 
The  brown  eyes  were  round,  showing  all  the  brown  pupil,  like 
a  monkey's,  and  just  calmly  looking,  perceiving  the  other 
person  without  referring  to  him  at  all.  They  rested  on 
Brangwen.  The  latter  marvelled  at  the  old  face  turned 


18  THE  RAINBOW 

round  on  him,  looking  at  him  without  considering  it  neces- 
sary to  know  him  at  all.  The  eyebrows  of  the  round,  perceiv-. 
ing,  but  unconcerned  eyes  were  rather  high  up,  with  slight 
wrinkles  above  them,  just  as  a  monkey's  had.  It  was  an  old, 
ageless  face. 

The  man  was  most  amazingly  a  gentleman  all  the  time, 
an  aristocrat.  Brangwen  stared  fascinated.  The  girl  was 
pushing  her  crumbs  about  on  the  cloth,  uneasily,  flushed  and 
angry. 

As  Brangwen  sat  motionless  in  the  hall  afterwards,  too 
much  moved  and  lost  to  know  what  to  do,  the  little  stranger 
came  up  to  him  with  a  beautiful  smile  and  manner,  offering 
a  cigarette  and  saying: 

"Will  you  smoke?" 

Brangwen  never  smoked  cigarettes,  yet  he  took  the  one 
offered,  fumbling  painfully  with  thick  fingers,  blushing  to  the 
roots  of  his  hair.  Then  he  looked  with  his  warm  blue  eyes 
?.t  the  almost  sardonic,  lidded  eyes  of  the  foreigner.  The 
Mter  sat  down  beside  him,  and  they  began  to  talk,  chiefly 
of  horses. 

Brangwen  loved  the  other  man  for  his  exquisite  gracious- 
uess,  for  his  tact  and  reserve,  and  for  his  ageless,  monkey- 
iike  self-surety.  They  talked  of  horses,  and  of  Derbyshire, 
ind  of  farming.  The  stranger  warmed  to  the  young  fellow 
Vfith  real  warmth,  and  Brangwen  was  excited.  He  was  trans- 
ported at  meeting  this  odd,  middle-aged,  dry-skinned  man, 
personally.  The  talk  was  pleasant,  but  that  did  not  matter 
so  much.  It  was  the  gracious  manner,  the  fine  contact  that 
tvas  all. 

They  talked  a  long  while  together,  Brangwen  flushing  like 
r*  girl  when  the  other  did  not  understand  his  idiom.  Then 
they  said  goodnight,  and  shook  hands.  Again  the  foreigner 
bowed  and  repeated  his  goodnight. 

"  Goodnight,  and  bon  voyage/' 

Then  he  turned  to  the  stairs. 

Brangwen  went  up  to  his  room  and  lay  staring  out  at  the 
stars  of  the  summer  night,  his  whole  being  in  a  whirl.  What 
was  it  all  ?  There  was  a  life  so  different  from  what  he  knew 
it.  What  was  there  outside  his  knowledge,  how  much? 
What  was  this  that  he  had  touched?  What  was  he  in  this 
new  influence?  What  did  everything  mean?  Where  was 
life,  in  that  which  he  knew  or  all  outside  him  ? 

He  fell  asleep,  and  in  the  morning  had  ridden  away  before 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       19 

any  other  visitors  were  awake.  He  shrank  from  seeing  any 
of  them  again,  in  the  morning. 

His  mind  was  one  big  excitement.  The  girl  and  the  for- 
eigner: he  knew  neither  of  their  names.  Yet  they  had  set 
fire  to  the  homestead  of  his  nature,  and  he  would  be  burned 
out  of  cover.  Of  the  two  experiences,  perhaps  the  meeting 
with  the  foreigner  was  the  more  significant.  But  the  girl 
—  he  had  not  settled  about  the  girl. 

He  did  not  know.  He  had  to  leave  it  there,  as  it  was. 
He  could  not  sum  up  his  experiences. 

The  result  of  these  encounters  was,  that  he  dreamed  day 
and  night,  absorbedly,  of  a  voluptuous  woman  and  of  the 
meeting  with  a  small,  withered  foreigner  of  ancient  breeding. 
No  sooner  was  his  mind  free,  no  sooner  had  he  left  his  own 
companions,  than  he  began  to  imagine  an  intimacy  with  fine- 
textured,  subtle-mannered  people  such  as  the  foreigner  at 
Matlock,  and  amidst  this  subtle  intimacy  was  always  the 
satisfaction  of  a  voluptuous  woman. 

He  went  about  absorbed  in  the  interest  and  the  actuality 
of  this  dream.  His  eyes  glowed,  he  walked  with  his  head 
up,  full  of  the  exquisite  pleasure  of  aristocratic  subtlety  and 
grace,  tormented  with  the  desire  for  the  girl. 

Then  gradually  the  glow  began  to  fade,  and  the  cold  ma- 
terial of  his  customary  life  to  show  through.  He  resented  it. 
Was  he  cheated  in  his  illusion?  He  balked  the  mean  en- 
closure of  reality,  stood  stubbornly  like  a  bull  at  a  gate, 
refusing  to  re-enter  the  well-known  round  of  his  own  life. 

He  drank  more  than  usual  to  keep  up  the  glow.  But  it 
faded  more  and  more  for  all  that.  He  set  his  teeth  at  the 
commonplace,  to  which  he  would  not  submit.  It  resolved 
itself  starkly  before  him,  for  all  that. 

He  wanted  to  marry,  to  get  settled  somehow,  to  get  out 
of  the  quandary  he  found  himself  in.  But  how?  He  felt 
unable  to  move  his  limbs.  He  had  seen  a  little  creature 
caught  in  bird-lime,  and  the  sight  was  a  nightmare  to  him. 
He  began  to  feel  mad  with  the  rage  of  impotency. 

He  wanted  something  to  get  hold  of,  to  pull  himself  out. 
But  there  was  nothing.  Steadfastly  he  looked  at  the  young 
women,  to  find  a  one  he  could  marry.  But  not  one  of  them 
did  he  want.  And  he  knew  that  the  idea  of  a  life  among 
such  people  as  the  foreigner  was  ridiculous. 

Yet  he  dreamed  of  it,  and  stuck  to  his  dreams,  and  would 
not  have  the  reality  of  Cossetha?r  and  Ilkeston.  There  ho 


30  THE  RAINBOW 

sat  stubbornly  in  his  corner  at  the  Red  Lion,  smoking  and 
musing  and  occasionally  lifting  his  beer-pot,  and  saying  noth- 
ing, for  all  the  world  like  a  gorping  farm-labourer,  as  he 
said  himself. 

Then  a  fever  of  restless  anger  came  upon  him.  He  wanted 
to  go  away  —  right  away.  He  dreamed  of  foreign  parts. 
But  somehow  he  had  no  contact  with  them.  And  it  was  a 
very  strong  root  which  held  him  to  the  Marsh,  to  his  own 
house  and  land. 

Then  Effie  got  married,  and  he  was  left  in  the  house  with 
only  Tilly,  the  cross-eyed  woman-servant  who  had  been  with 
them  for  fifteen  years.  He  felt  things  coming  to  a  close. 
All  the  time,  he  had  held  himself  stubbornly  resistant  to  the 
action  of  the  commonplace  unreality  which  wanted  to  absorb 
him.  But  now  he  had  to  do  something. 

He  was  by  nature  temperate.  Being  sensitive  and  emo- 
tional, his  nausea  prevented  him  from  drinking  too  much. 

But,  in  futile  anger,  with  the  greatest  of  determination 
and  apparent  good-humour,  he  began  to  drink  in  order  to 
get  drunk.  "  Damn  it,"  he  said  to  himself,  "  you  must  have 
it  one  road  or  another  —  you  can't  hitch  your  horse  to  the 
shadow  of  a  gate-post  —  if  you've  got  legs  you've  got  to  rise 
off  your  backside  some  time  or  other." 

So  he  rose  and  went  down  to  Ilkeston,  rather  awkwardly 
took  his  place  amongst  a  gang  of  young  bloods,  stood  drinks 
to  the  company,  and  discovered  he  could  carry  it  off  quite 
well.  He  had  an  idea  that  everybody  in  the  room  was  a 
man  after  his  own  heart,  that  everything  was  glorious,  every- 
thing was  perfect.  When  somebody  in  alarm  told  him  his 
coat  pocket  was  on  fire,  he  could  only  beam  from  a  red, 
blissful  face  and  say  "  Iss-all-ri-ight  —  iss-al'-ri-ight  —  it's 
a'  right  —  let  it  be,  let  it  be "  and  he  laughed  with  pleas- 
ure, and  was  rather  indignant  that  the  others  should  think  it 
unnatural  for  his  coat  pocket  to  burn :  —  it  was  the  happiest 
and  most  natural  thing  in  the  world  —  what? 

He  went  home  talking  to  himself  and  to  the  moon,  that 
was  very  high  and  small,  stumbling  at  the  flashes  of  moon- 
light from  the  puddles  at  his  feet,  wondering  What  the  Han- 
over !  then  laughing  confidently  to  the  moon,  assuring  her  this 
was  first  class,  this  was. 

In  the  morning  he  woke  up  and  thought  about  it,  and  for 
the  first  time  in  his  life,  knew  what  it  was  to  feel  really 
acutely  irritable,  in  a  misery  of  real  bad  temper.  After 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY      21 

bawling  and  snarling  at  Tilly,  he  took  himself  off  for  very 
shame,  to  be  alone.  And  looking  at  the  ashen  fields  and  the 
putty  roads,  he  wondered  what  in  the  name  of  Hell  he  could 
do  to  get  out  of  this  prickly  sense  of  disgust  and  physical 
repulsion.  And  he  knew  that  this  was  the  result  of  his 
glorious  evening. 

And  his  stomach  did  not  want  any  more  brandy.  He 
went  doggedly  across  the  fields  with  his  terrier,  and  looked 
at  everything  with  a  jaundiced  eye. 

The  next  evening  found  him  back  again  in  his  place  at  the 
5ed  Lion,  moderate  and  decent.  There  he  sat  and  stub- 
bornly waited  for  what  would  happen  next. 

Did  he,  or  did  he  not  believe  that  he  belonged  to  this 
world  of  Cossethay  and  Ilkeston?  There  was  nothing  in 
it  he  wanted.  Yet  could  he  ever  get  out  of  it?  Was  there 
anything  in  himself  that  would  carry  him  out  of  it?  Or 
was  he  a  dunderheaded  baby,  not  man  enough  to  be  like  the 
other  young  fellows  who  drank  a  good  deal  and  wenched  a 
little  without  any  question,  and  were  satisfied. 

He  went  on  stubbornly  for  a  time.  Then  the  strain  became 
too  great  for  him.  A  hot,  accumulated  consciousness  was 
always  awake  in  his  chest,  his  wrists  felt  swelled  and  quiver- 
ing, his  mind  became  full  of  lustful  images,  his  eyes  seemed 
blood-flushed.  He  fought  with  himself  furiously,  to  remain 
normal.  He  did  not  seek  any  woman.  He  just  went  on  as 
if  he  were  normal.  Till  he  must  either  take  some  action  or 
beat  his  head  against  the  wall. 

Then  he  went  deliberately  to  Ilkeston,  in  silence,  intent 
and  beaten.  He  drank  to  get  drunk.  He  gulped  down  the 
brandy,  and  more  brandy,  till  his  face  became  pale,  his  eyes 
burning.  And  still  he  could  not  get  free.  He  went  to  sleep 
in  drunken  unconsciousness,  woke  up  at  four  o'clock  in  the 
morning  and  continued  drinking.  He  would  get  free. 
Gradually  the  tension  in  him  began  to  relax.  He  began  to 
feel  happy.  His  riveted  silence  was  unfastened,  he  began  to 
talk  and  babble.  He  was  happy  and  at  one  with  all  the 
world,  he  was  united  with  all  flesh  in  a  hot  blood-relation- 
ship. So,  after  three  days  of  incessant  brandy-drinking,  he 
had  burned  out  the  youth  from  his  blood,  he  had  achieved 
this  kindled  state  of  oneness  with  all  the  world,  which  is  the 
<md  of  youth's  most  passionate  desire.  But  he  had  achieved 
his  satisfaction  by  obliterating  his  own  individuality,  that 
which  it  depended  on  his  manhood  to  preserve  and  develop. 


£2  THE  RAINBOW 

So  he  became  a  bout-drinker,  having  at  intervals  these 
bouts  of  three  or  four  days  of  brandy-drinking,  when  he  was 
drunk  for  the  whole  time.  He  did  not  think  about  it.  A 
deep  resentment  burned  in  him.  He  kept  aloof  from  any 
women,  antagonistic. 

When  he  was  twenty-eight,  a  thick-limbed,  stiff,  fair  man 
with  fresh  complexion,  and  blue  eyes  staring  very  straight 
ahead,  he  was  coming  one  day  down  from  Cossethay  with  a 
load  of  seed  out  of  Nottingham.  It  was  a  time  when  he 
was  getting  ready  for  another  bout  of  drinking,  so  he  stared 
fixedly  before  him,  watchful  yet  absorbed,  seeing  everything 
and  aware  of  nothing,  coiled  in  himself.  It  was  early  in  the 
year. 

He  walked  steadily  beside  the  horse,  the  load  clanked  be- 
hind as  the  hill  descended  steeper.  The  road  curved  down- 
hill before  him,  under  banks  and  hedges,  seen  only  for  a  few 
yards  ahead. 

Slowly  turning  the  curve  at  the  steepest  part  of  the  slope, 
his  horse  britching  between  the  shafts,  he  saw  a  woman 
approaching.  But  he  was  thinking  for  the  moment  of  the 
horse. 

Then  he  turned  to  look  at  her.  She  was  dressed  in  black, 
was  apparently  rather  small  and  slight,  beneath  her  long 
black  cloak,  and  she  wore  a  black  bonnet.  She  walked  hastily, 
as  if  unseeing,  her  head  rather  forward.  It  was  her  curious, 
absorbed,  flitting  motion,  as  if  she  were  passing  unseen  by 
everybody,  that  first  arrested  him. 

She  had  heard  the  cart,  and  looked  up.  Her  face  was  pale 
and  clear,  she  had  thick  dark  eyebrows  and  a  wide  mouth, 
curiously  held.  He  saw  her  face  clearly,  as  if  by  a  light  in 
the  air.  He  saw  her  face  so  distinctly,  that  he  ceased  to 
coil  on  himself,  and  was  suspended. 

"That's  her,"  he  said  involuntarily.  As  the  cart  passed 
by,  splashing  through  the  thin  mud,  she  stood  back  against 
the  bank.  Then,  as  he  walked  still  beside  his  britching 
horse,  his  eyes  met  hers.  He  looked  quickly  away,  pressing 
back  his  head,  a  pain  of  joy  running  through  him.  He  could 
not  bear  to  think  of  anything. 

He  turned  round  at  the  last  moment.  He  saw  her  bonnet, 
her  shape  in  the  black  cloak,  the  movement  as  she  walked. 
Then  she  was  gone  round  the  bend. 

She  had  passed  by.  He  felt  as  if  he  were  walking  again  in 
a  far  world,  not  Cossethay,  a  far  world,  the  fragile  reality. 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       23 

He  went  on,  quiet,  suspended,  rarified.  He  could  not  bear 
to  think  or  to  speak,  nor  make  any  sound  or  sign,  nor  change 
his  fixed  motion.  He  could  scarcely  bear  to  think  of  her 
face.  He  moved  within  the  knowledge  of  her,  in  the  world 
that  was  beyond  reality. 

The  feeling  that  they  had  exchanged  recognition  possessed 
him  like  a  madness,  like  a  torment.  How  could  he  be  sure, 
what  confirmation  had  he?  The  doubt  was  like  a  sense  of 
infinite  space,  a  nothingness,  annihilating.  He  kept  within 
his  breast  the  will  to  surety.  They  had  exchanged  recogni- 
tion. 

He  walked  about  in  this  state  for  the  next  few  days.  And 
then  again  like  a  mist  it  began  to  break  to  let  through  the 
common,  barren  world.  He  was  very  gentle  with  man  and 
beast,  but  he  dreaded  the  starkness  of  disillusion  cropping 
through  again. 

As  he  was  standing  with  his  back  to  the  fire  after  dimmer 
a  few  days  later,  he  saw  the  woman  passing.  He  wanted 
to  know  that  she  knew  him,  that  she  was  aware.  He  wanted 
it  said  that  there  was  something  between  them.  So  he  stood 
anxiously  watching,  looking  at  her  as  she  went  down  the 
road.  He  called  to  Tilly. 

"  Who  might  that  be  ?  "  he  asked. 

Tilly,  the  cross-eyed  woman  of  forty,  who  adored  him,  ran 
gladly  to  the  window  to  look:  She  was  glad  when  he  asked 
her  for  anything.  She  craned  her  head  over  the  short  cur- 
tain, the  little  tight  knob  of  her  black  hair  sticking  out 
pathetically  as  she  bobbed  about. 

"  Oh  why " —  she  lifted  her  head  and  peered  with  her 
twisted,  keen  brown  eyes  — "  why,  you  know  who  it  is  —  it's 
her  from  th'  vicarage  —  you  know " 

"  How  do  I  know,  you  hen-bird,"  he  shouted. 

Tilly  blushed  and  drew  her  neck  in  and  looked  at  him  with 
her  squinting,  sharp,  almost  reproachful  look. 

"  Why  you  do  —  it's  the  new  housekeeper/' 

"Ay  — an' what  by  that?" 

"Well,  an'  what  by  that?"  rejoined  the  indignant  Tilly, 

"  She's  a  woman,  isn't  she,  housekeeper  or  no  housekeeper  ? 
She's  got  more  to  her  than  that!  Who  is  she  —  she's  got  a 
name  ?  " 

"  Well,  if  she  has,  I  don't  know,"  retorted  Tilly,  not  to  be 
badgered  by  this  lad  who  had  grown  up  into  a  man. 

"  What's  her  name  ?  "  he  asked,  more  gently. 


24  THE  RAINBOW 

"I'm  sure  I  couldn't  tell  you/'  replied  Tilly,  on  her  dig- 
nity. 

"An'  is  that  all  as  you've  gathered,  as  she's  housekeeping 
at  the  vicarage  ?  " 

"  I've  'eered  mention  of  'er  name,  but  I  couldn't  remem- 
ber it  for  my  life." 

"  Why  yer  riddle-skulled  woman  o'  nonsense,  what  have  you 
got  a  head  for?" 

"For  what  other  folks  'as  got  theirs  for,"  retorted  Tilly, 
who  loved  nothing  more  than  these  tilts  when  he  would  call 
her  names. 

There  was  a  lull. 

"I  don't  believe  as  anybody  could  keep  it  in  their  head," 
the  woman-servant  continued,  tentatively. 

"What?"  he  asked. 

"  Why,  'er  name." 

"How's  that?" 

"  She's  fra  some  foreign  parts  or  other." 

"Who  told  you  that?" 

"  That's  all  I  do  know,  as  she  is." 

"  An'  wheer  do  you  reckon  she's  from,  then  ?  " 

"  I  don't  know.  They  do  say  as  she  hails  fra  th'  Pole. 
I  don't  know,"  Tilly  hastened  to  add,  knowing  he  would  at- 
tack her. 

"  Fra  th'  Pole,  why  do  you  hail  fra  th'  Pole  ?  Who  set 
up  that  menagerie  confabulation  ?  " 

"  That's  what  they  say  —  I  don't  know  - 

"Who  says?"  , 

"  Mrs.  Bentley  says  as  she's  fra  th'  Pole  —  else  she  is  a 
Pole,  or  summat." 

Tilly  was  only  afraid  she  was  landing  herself  deeper  now. 

"  Who  says  she's  a  Pole?  " 

"They  all  say  so." 

"  Then  what's  brought  her  to  these  parts  ?  " 

"  I  couldn't  tell  you.     She's  got  a  little  girl  with  her." 

"  Got  a  little  girl  with  her?  " 

"Of  three  or  four,  with  a  head  like  a  fuzz-ball." 

"Black?" 

"  White  —  fair  as  can  be,  an'  all  of  a  fuzz." 

"Is  there  a  father,  then?" 

"  Not  to  my  knowledge.     I  don't  know." 

"  What  brought  her  here  ?  " 

"  I  couldn't  say,  without  th'  vicar  axed  her." 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       25 

"Is  the  child  her  child?" 

"  I  s'd  think  so  —  they  say  so." 

"Who  told  you  about  her?" 

"Why,  Lizzie  —  a-Monday  —  we  seed  her  goin'  past." 

"  You'd  have  to  be  rattling  your  tongues  if  anything  went 

past." 

Brangwen  stood  musing.  That  evening  he  went  up  to 
Cossethay  to  the  Eed  Lion,  half  with  the  intention  of  hear- 
ing more. 

She  was  the  widow  of  a  Polish  doctor,  he  gathered.  Her 
husband  had  died,  a  refugee,  in  London.  She  spoke  a  bit 
foreign-like,  but  you  could  easily  make  out  what  she  said. 
She  had  one  little  girl  named  Anna.  Lensky  was  the  woman's 
name,  Mrs.  Lensky. 

Brangwen  felt  that  here  was  the  unreality  established  at 
last.  He  felt  also  a  curious  certainty  about  her,  as  if  she 
were  destined  to  him.  It  was  to  him  a  profound  satisfaction 
that  she  was  a  foreigner. 

A  swift  change  had  taken  place  on  the  earth  for  him,  a? 
if  a  new  creation  were  fulfilled,  in  which  he  had  real  existence. 
Things  had  all  been  stark,  unreal,  barren,  mere  nullities  be" 
fore.  Now  they  were  actualities  that  he  could  handle. 

He  dared  scarcely  think  of  the  woman.  He  was  afraid. 
Only  all  the  time  lie  was  aware  of  her  presence  not  far  off, 
he  lived  in  her.  But  he  dared  not  know  her,  even  acquaint 
himself  with  her  by  thinking  of  her. 

One  day  he  met  her  walking  along  the  road  with  her  little 
girl.  It  was  a  child  with  a  face  like  a  bud  of  apple-blossom, 
and  glistening  fair  hair  like  thistle-down  sticking  out  in 
straight,  wild,  flamy  pieces,  and  very  dark  eyes.  The  child 
clung  jealously  to  her  mother's  side  when  he  looked  at  her, 
'staring  with  resentful  black  eyes.  But  the  mother  glanced 
at  him  again,  almost  vacantly.  And  the  very  vacancy  of 
her  look  inflamed  him.  She  had  wide  grey-brown  eyes  with 
very  dark,  fathomless  pupils.  He  felt  the  fine  flame  running 
under  his  skin,  as  if  all  his  veins  had  caught  fire  on  the  sur- 
face. And  he  went  on  walking  without  knowledge. 

It  was  coming,  he  knew,  his  fate.  The  world  was  submit- 
ting to  its  transformation.  He  made  no  move:  it  would 
come,  what  would  come. 

When  his  sister  Eflfte  came  to  the  Marsh  for  a  week,  he 
wmt  with  her  for  once  to  church.  In  the  tiny  place,  with 
its  mere  dozen  pews,  he  sat  not  far  from  the  stranger.  There 


26  THE  RAINBOW 

was  a  fineness  about  her,  a  poignancy  about  the  way  she 
sat  and  held  her  head  lifted.  She  was  strange,  from  far 
off,  yet  so  intimate.  She  was  from  far  away,  a  presence,  so 
close  to  his  soul.  She  was  not  really  there,  sitting  in  Cosse- 
thay  church  beside  her  little  girl.  She  was  not  living  the 
apparent  life  of  her  days.  She  belonged  to  somewhere  else. 
He  felt  it  poignantly,  as  something  real  and  natural.  But  a 
pang  of  fear  for  his  own  concrete  life,  that  was  only  Cosse- 
thay,  hurt  him,  and  gave  him  misgiving. 

Her  thick  dark  brows  almost  met  above  her  irregular  nose, 
she  had  a  wide,  rather  thick  mouth.  But  her  face  was  lifted 
to  another  world  of  life:  not  to  heaven  or  death:  but  to 
some  place  where  she  still  lived,  in  spite  of  her  body's  ab- 
sence. 

The  child  beside  her  watched  everything  with  wide,  black 
eyes.  She  had  an  odd  little  defiant  look,  her  little  red  mouth 
was  pinched  shut.  She  seemed  to  be  jealously  guarding  some- 
thing, to  be  always  on  the  alert  for  defence.  She  met  Brang- 
wen's  near,  vacant,  intimate  gaze,  and  a  palpitating  hostility, 
almost  like  a  flame  of  pain,  came  into  the  wide,  over-conscious 
dark  eyes. 

The  old  clergyman  droned  on,  Cossethay  sat  unmoved  as 
usual.  And  there  was  the  foreign  woman  with  a  foreign  air 
about  her,  inviolate,  and  the  strange  child,  also  foreign, 
jealously  guarding  something. 

When  the  service  was  over,  he  walked  in  the  way  of  an- 
other existence  out  of  the  church.  As  he  went  down  the 
church-path  with  his  sister,  behind  the  woman  and  child,  the 
little  girl  suddenly  broke  from  her  mother's  hand,  and  slipped 
back  with  quick,  almost  invisible  movement,  and  was  pick- 
ing at  something  almost  under  Brangwen's  feet.  Her  tiny 
fingers  were  fine  and  quick,  but  they  missed  the  red  button. 

"Have  you  found  something?"  said  Brangwen  to  her. 

And  he  also  stooped  for  the  button.  But  she  had  got  it, 
and  she  stood  back  with  it  pressed  against  her  little  coat, 
her  black  eyes  flaring  at  him,  as  if  to  forbid  him  to  notice 
her.  Then,  having  silenced  him,  she  turned  with  a  swift 
"  Mother "  and  was  gone  down  the  path. 

The  mother  had  stood  watching  impassive,  looking  not  at 
the  child,  but  at  Brangwen.  He  became  aware  of  the  woman 
looking  at  him,  standing  there  isolated  yet  for  him  dominant 
in  her  foreign  existence. 

He  did  not  know  what  to  do,  and  turned  to  his  sister.     But 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       27 

the  wide  grey  eyes,  almost  vacant  yet  so  moving,  held  him  be- 
yond himself. 

"  Mother,  I  may  have  it,  mayn't  I?"  came  the  child's 
proud,  silvery  tones.  "  Mother  "-  —  she  seemed  always  to  be 
calling  her  mother  to  remember  her  — "  mother  " —  and  she 
had  nothing  to  continue  now  her  mother  had  replied  "  Yes, 
my  child.'"  But,  with  ready  invention,  the  child  stumbled 
and  ran  on,  "  What  are  those  people's  names  ?  " 

Brangwen  heard  the  abstract: 

"  I  don't  know,  dear." 

He  went  on  down  the  road  as  if  he  were  not  living  inside 
himself,  but  somewhere  outside. 

"  Who  was  that  person  ?  "  his  sister  Effie  asked. 

"  I  couldn't  tell  you,"  he  answered  unknowing. 

"  She's  somebody  very  funny,"  said  Effie,  almost  in  con- 
demnation. "  That  child's  like  one  bewitched." 

"  Bewitched  —  how  bewitched  ?  "  he  repeated. 

"You  can  see  for  yourself.  The  mother's  plain,  I  must 
say  —  but  the  child  is  like  a  changeling.  She'd  be  about 
thirty-five." 

But  he  took  no  notice.     His  sister  talked  on. 

"There's  your  woman  for  you,"  she  continued.  "You'd 
better  marry  her/'  But  still  he  took  no  notice.  Things  were 
as  they  were. 

Another  day,  at  tea-time,  as  he  sat  alone  at  table,  there 
came  a  knock  at  the  front  door.  It  startled  him  like  a  por- 
tent. No  one  ever  knocked  at  the  front  door.  He  rose  and 
began  slotting  back  the  bolts,  turning  the  big  key.  When 
he  had  opened  the  door,  the  strange  woman  stood  on  the 
threshold. 

"  Can  you  give  me  a  pound  of  butter  ?  "  she  asked,  in  a 
curious  detached  way  of  one  speaking  a  foreign  language. 

He  tried  to  attend  to  her  question.  She  was  looking  at 
him  questioningly.  But  underneath  the  question,  what  was 
there,  in  her  very  standing  motionless,  which  affected  him? 

He  stepped  aside  and  she  at  once  entered  the  house,  as  if 
the  door  had  been  opened  to  admit  her.  That  startled  him. 
It  was  the  custom  for  everybody  to  wait  on  the  doorstep  till 
asked  inside.  He  went  into  the  kitchen  and  she  followed. 

His  tea-things  were  spread  on  the  scrubbed  deal  table,  a 
big  fire  was  burning,  a  dog  rose  from  the  hearth  and  went 
to  her.  She  stood  motionless  just  inside  the  kitchen. 

"  Tilly/'  he  called  loudly,  "have  we  got  any  butter?  " 


28  THE  RAINBOW 

The  stranger  stood  there  like  a  silence  in  her  black  cloak. 

"  Eh  ?  "  came  the  shrill  cry  from  the  distance. 

He  shouted  his  question  again. 

"We've  got  what's  on  t'  table/'  answered  Tilly's  shrill 
voice  out  of  the  dairy. 

Brangwen  looked  at  the  table.  There  was  a  large  pat  of 
butter  on  a  plate,  almost  a  pound.  It  was  round,  and 
stamped  with  acorns  and  oak-leaves. 

"  Can't  you  come  when  you're  wanted  ?  "  he  shouted. 

"Why,  what  d'you  want?"  Tilly  protested,  as  she  came 
peeking  inquisitively  through  the  other  door. 

She  saw  the  strange  woman,  stared  at  her  with  cross-eyes, 
but  said  nothing. 

"Haven't  we  any  butter?"  asked  Brangwen  again,  im- 
patiently, as  if  he  could  command  some  by  his  question. 

"I  tell  you  there's  what's  on  t'  table,"  said  Tilly,  impa- 
tient that  she  was  unable  to  create  any  to  his  demand. 
"  We  haven't  a  morsel  besides." 

There  was  a  moment's  silence. 

The  stranger  spoke,  in  her  curiously  distinct,  detached 
manner  of  one  who  must  think  her  speech  first. 

"  Oh,  then  thank  you  very  much.  I  am  sorry  that  I  have 
come  to  trouble  you." 

She  could  not  understand  the  entire  lack  of  manners,  was 
slightly  puzzled.  Any  politeness  would  have  made  the 
situation  quite  impersonal.  But  here  it  was  a  case  of  wills 
in  confusion.  Brangwen  flushed  at  her  polite  speech.  Still 
he  did  not  let  her  go. 

"  Get  summat  an'  wrap  that  up  for  her,"  he  said  to  Tilly, 
looking  at  the  butter  on  the  table. 

And  taking  a  clean  knife,  he  cut  off  that  side  of  the  butter 
where  it  was  touched. 

His  speech,  the  "  for  her,"  penetrated  slowly  into  the 
foreign  woman  and  angered  Tilly. 

"Vicar  has  his  butter  fra  Brown's  by  rights,"  said  the 
insuppressible  servant-woman.  "We  s'll  be  churnin'  to- 
morrow mornin'  first  thing." 

"Yes" — the  long-drawn  foreign  yes — "yes,"  said  the 
Polish  woman,  "I  went  to  Mrs.  Brown's.  She  hasn't  any 
more." 

Tilly  bridled  her  head,  bursting  to  say  that,  according 
to  the  etiquette  of  people  who  bought  butter,  it  was  no  sort 
of  manners  whatever  coming  to  a  place  cool  as  you  like  and 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       29 

knocking  at  the  front  door  asking  tor  a  pound  as  a  stop-gap 
while  your  other  people  were  short.  If  you  go  to  Brown's 
you  go  to  Brown's,  an'  my  butter  isn't  just  to  make  shift 
when  Brown's  has  got  none. 

Brangwen  understood  perfectly  this  unspoken  speech  of 
Tilly's.  The  Polish  lady  did  not.  And  as  she  wanted 
butter  for  the  vicar,  and  as  Tilly  was  churning  in  the  morn- 
ing, she  waited. 

"  Sluther  up  now,"  said  Brangwen  loudly  after  this  silence 
had  resolved  itself  out;  and  Tilly  disappeared  through  the 
inner  door. 

"  I  am  afraid  that  I  should  not  come,  so,"  said  the  stranger, 
looking  at  him  enquiringly,  as  if  referring  to  "Mm  for  what  it 
was  usual  to  do. 

He  felt  confused. 

"  How's  that  ? "  he  said,  trying  to  be  genial  and  being 
only  protective. 

"Do  you ?"   she  began   deliberately.     But   she   was 

not  sure  of  her  ground,  and  the  conversation  came  to  an 
end.  Her  eyes  looked  at  him  all  the  while,  because  she 
could  not  speak  the  language. 

They  stood  facing  each  other.  The  dog  walked  away  from 
her  to  him.  He  bent  down  to  it. 

"  And  how's  your  little  girl  ?  "  he  asked. 

"Yes,  thank  you,  she  is  very  well,"  was  the  reply,  a  phrase 
of  polite  speech  in  a  foreign  language  merely. 

"  Sit  you  down,"  he  said. 

.  And  she  sat  in  a  chair,  her  slim  arms,  coming  through 
the  slits  of  her  cloak,  resting  on  her  lap. 

"You're  not  used  to  these  parts,"  he  said,  still  standing 
on  the  hearthrug  with  his  back  to  the  fire,  coatless,  looking 
with  curious  directness  at  the  woman.  Her  self-possession 
pleased  him  and  inspired  him,  set  him  curiously  free.  It 
seemed  to  him  almost  brutal  to  feel  so  master  of  himself 
and  of  the  situation. 

Her  eyes  rested  on  him  for  a  moment,  questioning,  as  she 
thought  of  the  meaning  of  his  speech. 

*No,"   she   said,   understanding.     "No  —  it   is   strange." 

"  You  find  it  middlin'  rough  ?  "  he  said. 

Her  eyes  waited  on  him,  so  that  he  should  say  it  again. 

"Our  ways  are  rough  to  you,"  he  repeated. 

"  Yes  —  yes,  I  understand.  Yes,  it  is  different,  it  is 
strange.  But  I  was  in  Yorkshire " 


30  THE  RAINBOW 

"  Oh,  well  then,"  he  said,  "  it's  no  worse  here  than  what 
they  axe  up  there." 

She  did  not  quite  understand.  His  protective  manner, 
and  his  sureness,  and  his  intimacy,  puzzled  her.  What  did 
he  mean?  If  he  was  her  equal,  why  did  he  behave  so  with- 
out formality? 

"No "she  said,  vaguely,  her  eyes  resting  on  him. 

She  saw  him  fresh  and  na'ive,  uncouth,  almost  entirely 
beyond  relationship  with  her.  Yet  he  was  good-looking,  with 
his  fair  hair  and  blue  eyes  full  of  energy,  and  with  his 
healthy  body  that  seemed  to  take  equality  with  her.  She 
watched  him  steadily.  He  was  difficult  for  her  to  under- 
stand, warm,  uncouth,  and  confident  as  he  was,  sure  on  his 
feet  as  if  he  did  not  know  what  it  was  to  be  unsure.  What 
then  was  it  that  gave  him  this  curious  stability? 

She  did  not  know.  She  wondered.  She  looked  round  the 
room  he  lived  in.  It  had  a  close  intimacy  that  fascinated 
and  almost  frightened  her.  The  furniture  was  old  and  fa- 
miliar as  old  people,  the  whole  place  seemed  so  kin  to  him, 
as  if  it  partook  of  his  being,  that  she  was  uneasy. 

"  It  is  already  a  long  time  that  you  have  lived  in  this 
house  —  yes  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  I've  always  lived  here,"  he  said. 

"  Yes  —  but  your  people  —  your  family  ?  " 

"We've  been  here  above  two  hundred  years,"  he  said. 
Her  eyes  were  on  him  all  the  time,  wide-open  and  trying  to 
grasp  him.  He  felt  that  he  was  there  for  her. 

"  It  is  your  own  place,  the  house,  the  farm  • ?  " 

"Yes,"  he  said.  He  looked  down  at  her  and  met  her 
look.  It  disturbed  her.  She  did  not  know  him.  He  was 
a  foreigner,  they  had  nothing  to  do  with  each  other.  Yet 
his  look  disturbed  her  to  knowledge  of  him.  He  was  so 
strangely  confident  and  direct. 

"  You  live  quite  alone  ?  " 

"Yes  —  if  you  call  it  alone." 

She  did  not  understand.  It  seemed  unusual  to  her. 
What  was  the  meaning  of  it? 

And  whenever  her  eyes,  after  watching  him  for  some  time, 
inevitably  met  his,  she  was  aware  of  a  heat  beating  up  over 
her  consciousness.  She  sat  motionless  and  in  conflict.  Who 
was  this  strange  man  who  was  at  once  so  near  to  her  ?  What 
was  happening  to  her  ?  Something  in  his  young,  warm- 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       31 

twinkling  eyes  seemed  to  assume  a  right  to  her,  to  speak  to 
her,  to  extend  her  his  protection.  But  how  ?  Why  did  he 
speak  to  her !  Why  were  his  eyes  so  certain,  so  full  of 
light  and  confident,  waiting  for  no  permission  nor  signal  ? 

Tilly  returned  with  a  large  leaf  and  found  the  two  silent. 
At  once  he  felt  it  incumbent  on  him  to  speak,  now  the  serv- 
ing-woman had  come  back. 

"  How  old  is  your  little  girl  ? "  he  asked. 

"  Four  years,"  she  replied. 

"  Her  father  hasn't  been  dead  long,  then  ?  "  he  asked. 

"  She  was  one  year  when  he  died." 

"  Three  years  ?  " 

"  Yes,  three  years  that  he  is  dead  —  yes." 

Curiously  quiet  she  was,  almost  abstracted,  answering  these 
questions.  She  looked  at  him  again,  with  some  maiden- 
hood opening  in  her  eyes.  He  felt  he  could  not  move,  neither 
towards  her  nor  away  from  her.  Something  about  her  pres- 
ence hurt  him,  till  he  was  almost  rigid  before  her.  He  saw 
the  girPs  wondering  look  rise  in  her  eyes. 

Tilly  handed  her  the  butter  and  she  rose. 

"  Thank  you  very  much,"  she  said.     "  How  much  is  it  ?  " 

"We'll  make  th'  vicar  a  present  of  it,"  he  said.  "It'll 
do  for  me  goin'  to  church." 

"  It  'ud  look  better  of  you  if  you  went  to  church  and  took 
th'  money  for  your  butter,"  said  Tilly,  persistent  in  her 
claim  to  him. 

"  You'.d  have  to  put  in,  shouldn't  you  ?  "  he  said. 

"  How  much,  please  ? "  said  the  Polish  woman  to  Tilly. 
Brangwen  stood  by  and  let  be. 

"  Then,  thank  you  very  much,"  she  said. 

"  Bring  your  little  girl  down  sometime  to  look  at  th' 
fowls  and  horses,"  he  said, — "  if  she'd  like  it." 

"Yes,  she  would  like  it,"  said  the  stranger. 

And  she  went.  Brangwen  stood  dimmed  by  her  departure. 
He  could  not  notice  Tilly,  who  was  looking  at  him  uneasily, 
wanting  to  be  reassured.  He  could  not  think  of  anything. 
He  felt  that  he  had  made  some  invisible  connection  with  the 
strange  woman. 

A  daze  had  come  over  his  mind,  he  had  another  centre  of 
consciousness.  In  his  breast,  or  in  his  bowels,  somewhere  in 
his  body,  there  had  started  another  activity.  It  was  as  if  a 
strong  light  were  burning  there,  and  he  was  blind  within  it, 


32  THE  RAINBOW 

unable  .to  know  anything,  except  that  this  transfiguration 
burned  between  him  and  her,  connecting  them,  like  a  secret 
power. 

Since  she  had  come  to  the  house  he  went  about  in  a  daze, 
scarcely  seeing  even  the  things  he  handled,  drifting,  quiescent, 
in  a  state  of  metamorphosis.  He  submitted  to  that  which 
was  happening  to  him,  letting  go  his  will,  suffering  the  loss 
of  himself,  dormant  always  on  the  brink  of  ecstasy,  like  a 
creature  evolving  to  a  new  birth. 

She  came  twice  with  her  child  to  the  farm,  but  there  was 
this  lull  between  them,  an  intense  calm  and  passivity  like  a 
torpor  upon  them,  so  that  there  was  no  active  change  took 
place.  He  was  almost  unaware  of  the  child,  yet  by  his 
native  good  humour  he  gained  her  confidence,  even  her  af- 
fection, setting  her  on  the  horse  to  ride,  giving  her  corn  for 
the  fowls. 

Once  he  drove  the  mother  and  child  from  Ilkeston,  picking 
them  up  on  the  road.  The  child  huddled  close  to  him  as  if 
for  love,  the  mother  sat  very  still.  There  was  a  vagueness, 
like  a  soft  mist  over  all  of  them,  and  a  silence  as  if  their  wills 
were  suspended.  Only  he  saw  her  hands,  ungloved,  folded 
in  her  lap,  and  he  noticed  the  wedding-ring  on  her  finger^ 
It  excluded  him:  it  was  a  closed  circle.  It  bound  her  life, 
the  wedding-ring,  it  stood  for  her  life  in  which  he  could 
have  no  part.  Nevertheless,  beyond  all  this,  there  was  her- 
self and  himself  which  should  meet. 

As  he  helped  her  down  from  the  trap,  almost  lifting  her, 
he  felt  he  had  some  right  to  take  her  thus  between  his  hands. 
She  belonged  as  yet  to  that  other,  to  that  which  was  behind. 
But  he  must  care  for  her  also.  She  was  too  living  to  be 
neglected. 

Sometimes  her  vagueness,  in  which  he  was  lost,  made  him 
angry,  made  him  rage.  But  he  held  himself  still  as  yet. 
She  had  no  response,  no  being  towards  him.  It  puzzled  and 
enraged  him,  but  he  submitted  for  a  long  time.  Then,  from 
the  accumulated  troubling  of  her  ignoring  him,  gradually  a 
fury  broke  out,  destructive,  and  he  wanted  to  go  away,  to 
escape  her. 

It  happened  she  came  down  to  the  Marsh  with  the  child 
whilst  he  was  in  this  state.  Then  he  stood  over  against  her, 
strong  and  heavy  in  his  revolt,  and  though  he  said  nothing, 
still  she  felt  his  anger  and  heavy  impatience  grip  hold  of 
her,  she  was  shaken  again  as  out  of  a  torpor.  Again  her 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       33 

heart  stirred  with  a  quick,  out-running  impulse,  she  looked 
at  him,  at  the  stranger  who  was  not  a  gentleman  yet  who  in- 
sisted on  coming  into  her  life,  and  the  pain  of  a  new  birth  in 
herself  strung  all  her  veins  to  a  new  form.  She  would  have 
to  begin  again,  to  find  a  new  being,  a  new  form,  to  respond 
to  that  blind,  insistent  figure  standing  over  against  her. 

A  shiver,  a  sickness  of  new  birth  passed  over  her,  the  flame 
leaped  up  him,  under  his  skin.  She  wanted  it,  this  new  life 
from  him,  with  him,  yet  she  must  defend  herself  against 
it,  for  it  was  a  destruction. 

As  he  worked  alone  on  the  land,  or  sat  up  with  his  ewes 
at  lambing  time,  the  facts  and  material  of  his  daily  life  fell 
away,  leaving  the  kernel  of  his  purpose  clean.  And  then  it 
came  upon  him  that  he  would  marry  her  and  she  would  be 
his  life. 

Gradually,  even  without  seeing  her,  he  came  to  know  her. 
He  would  have  liked  to  think  of  her  as  of  something  given 
into  his  protection,  like  a  child  without  parents.  But  it  was 
forbidden  him.  He  had  to  come  down  from  this  pleasant 
view  of  the  case.  She  might  refuse  him.  And  besides,  he 
was  afraid  of  her. 

But  during  the  long  February  nights  with  the  ewes  in 
labour,  looking  out  from  the  shelter  into  the  flashing  stars, 
he  knew  he  did  not  belong  to  himself.  He  must  admit  that 
he  was  only  fragmentary,  something  incomplete  and  subject. 
There  were  the  stars  in  the  dark  heaven  travelling,  the  whole 
host  passing  by  on  some  eternal  voyage.  So  he  sat  small  and 
submissive  to  the  greater  ordering. 

Unless  she  would  come  to  him,  he  must  remain  as  a 
nothingness.  It  was  a  hard  experience.  But,  after  her  re- 
peated obliviousness  to  him,  after  he  had  seen  so  often  that 
he  did  not  exist  for  her,  after  he  had  raged  and  tried  to 
escape,  and  said  he  was  good  enough  by  himself,  he  was  a 
man,  and  could  stand  alone,  he  must,  in  the  starry  multi- 
plicity of  the  night  humble  himself,  and  admit  and  know  that 
without  her  he  was  nothing. 

He  was  nothing.  But  with  her,  he  would  be  real.  If 
she  were  now  walking  across  the  frosty  grass  near  the  sheep- 
shelter,  through  the  fretful  bleating  of  the  ewes  and  lambs, 
she  would  bring  him  completeness  and  perfection.  And  if 
it  should  be  so,  that  she  should  come  to  him !  It  should  be 
fio  —  it  was  ordained  so. 

He  was  a  long  time  resolving  definitely  to   ask  her  to 


34  THE  RAINBOW 

marry  him.  And  he  knew,  if  he  asked  her,  she  must  really 
acquiesce.  She  must,  it  could  not  be  otherwise. 

He  had  learned  a  little  of  her.  She  was  poor,  quite  alone, 
and  had  had  a  hard  time  in  London,  both  before  and  after 
her  husband  died.  But  in  Poland  she  was  a  lady  well  born, 
a  landowner's  daughter. 

All  these  things  were  only  words  to  him,  the  fact  of  her 
superior  birth,  the  fact  that  her  husband  had  been  a  brilliant 
doctor,  the  fact  that  he  himself  was  her  inferior  in  almost 
every  way  of  distinction.  There  was  an  inner  reality,  a  logic 
of  the  soul,  which  connected  her  with  him. 

One  evening  in  March,  when  the  wind  was  roaring  outside, 
came  the  moment  to  ask  her.  He  had  sat  with  his  hands 
before  him,  leaning  to  the  fire.  And  as  he  watched  the  fire, 
he  knew  almost  without  thinking  that  he  was  going  this 
evening. 

"  Have  you  got  a  clean  shirt ?"  he  asked  Tilly. 

"You  know  you've  got  clean  shirts,"  she  said. 

"Ay,— bring  me  a  white  one." 

Tilly  brought  down  one  of  the  linen  shirts  he  had  inherited 
from  his  father,  putting  it  before  him  to  air  at  the  fire. 
She  loved  him  with  a  dumb,  aching  love  as  he  sat  leaning 
with  his  arms  on  his  knees,  still  and  absorbed,  unaware  of 
her.  Lately,  a  quivering  inclination  to  cry  had  come  over 
her,  when  she  did  anything  for  him  in  his  presence.  Now 
her  hands  trembled  as  she  spread  the  shirt.  He  was  never 
shouting  and  teasing  now.  The  deep  stillness  there  was  in 
the  house  made  her  tremble. 

He  went  to  wash  himself.  Queer  little  breaks  of  con- 
sciousness seemed  to  rise  and  burst  like  bubbles  out  of  the 
depths  of  his  stillness. 

"It's  got  to  be  done,"  he  said  as  he  stooped  to  take  the 
shirt  out  of  the  fender,  "it's  got  to  be  done,  so  why  balk 
it?"  And  as  he  combed  his  hair  before  the  mirror  on  the 
wall,  he  retorted  to  himself,  superficially:  "The  woman's 
not  speechless  dumb.  She's  not  clutterin'  at  the  nipple. 
She's  got  the  right  to  please  herself,  and  displease  whosoever 
she  likes." 

This  streak  of  commonsense  carried  him  a  little  further. 

"  Did  you  want  anythink  ? "  asked  Tilly,  suddenly  ap- 
pearing, having  heard  him  speak.  She  stood  watching  him 
comb  his  fair  beard.  His  eyes  were  calm  and  uninter- 
;rupted. 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       35 

" Ay,"  he  said,  "where  have  you  put  the  scissors." 

She  brought  them  to  him,  and  stood  watching  as,  chin 
forward,  he  trimmed  his  beard. 

"  Don't  go  an'  crop  yourself  as  if  you  was  at  a  shearin' 
contest,"  she  said,  anxiously.  He  blew  the  fine-curled  hair 
quickly  off  his  lips. 

He  put  on  all  clean  clothes,  folded  his  stock  carefully,  and 
donned  his  best  coat.  Then,  being  ready,  as  grey  twilight 
was  falling,  he  went  across  to  the  orchard  to  gather  the 
daffodils.  The  wind  was  roaring  in  the  iapple-trees,  the 
yellow  flowers  swayed  violently  up  and  down,  he  heard  even 
the  fine  whisper  of  their  spears  as  he  stooped  to  break  the 
flattened,  brittle  stems  of  the  flowers. 

"What's  to-do?"  shouted  a  friend  who  met  him  as  he 
left  the  garden  gate. 

"Bit  of  courtin',  like,"  said  Brangwen. 

And  Tilly,  in  a  great  state  of  trepidation  and  excitement, 
let  the  wind  whisk  her  over  the  field  to  the  big  gate,  whence 
she  could  watch  him  go. 

He  went  up  the  hill  and  on  towards  the  vicarage,  the  wind 
roaring  through  the  hedges,  whilst  he  tried  to  shelter  his 
bunch  of  daffodils  by  his  side.  He  did  not  think  of  any- 
thing, only  knew  that  the  wind  was  blowing. 

Night  was  falling,  the  bare  trees  drummed  and  whistled. 
The  vicar,  he  knew,  would  be  in  his  study,  the  Polish  woman 
in  the  kitchen,  a  comfortable  room,  with  her  child.  In  the 
darkest  of  twilight,  he  went  through  the  gate  and  down  the 
path  where  a  few  daffodils  stooped  in  the  wind,  and  shattered 
crocuses  made  a  pale,  colourless  ravel. 

There  was  a  light  streaming  on  to  the  bushes  at  the  back 
from  the  kitchen  window.  He  began  to  hesitate.  How 
could  he  do  this?  Looking  through  the  window,  he  saw 
her  seated  in  the  rocking-chair  with  the  child,  already  in  its 
nightdress,  sitting  on  her  knee.  The  fair  head  with  its  wild, 
fierce  hair  was  drooping  towards  the  fire-warmth,  which  re- 
flected on  the  bright  cheeks  and  clear  skin  of  the  child,  who 
seemed  to  be  musing,  almost  like  a  grown-up  person.  The 
mother's  face  was  dark  and  still,  and  he  saw,  with  a  pang, 
that  she  was  away  back  in  the  life  that  had  been.  The  child's 
hair  gleamed  like  spun  glass,  her  face  was  illuminated  till 
it  seemed  like  wax  lit  up  from  the  inside.  The  wind  boomed 
strongly.  Mother  and  child  sat  motionless,  silent,  the  child 
staring  with  vacant  dark  eyes  into  the  fire,  the  mother  look- 


36  THE  RAINBOW 

ing  into  space.  The  little  girl  was  almost  asleep.  It  was 
her  will  which  kept  her  eyes  so  wide. 

Suddenly  she  looked  round,  troubled,  as  the  wind  shook 
the  house,  and  Brangwen  saw  the  small  lips  move.  The 
mother  began  to  rock,  he  heard  the  slight .  crunch  of  the 
rockers  of  the  chair.  Then  he  heard  the  low,  monotonous 
-  mirmur  of  a  song  in  a  foreign  language.  Then  a  great  burst 
>f  wind,  the  mother  seemed  to  have  drifted  away,  the  child's 
eyes  were  black  and  dilated.  Brangwen  looked  up  at  the 
clouds  which  packed  in  great,  alarming  haste  across  the  dark 
sky. 

Then  there  came  the  child's  high,  complaining,  yet  im- 
perative voice: 

"Don't  sing  that  stuff,  mother;  I  don't  want  to  hear  it." 

The  singing  died  away. 

"  You  will  go  to  bed,"  said  the  mother. 

He  saw  the  clinging  protest  of  the  child,  the  unmoved  far- 
awayness  of  the  mother,  the  clinging,  grasping  effort  of  the 
child.  Then  suddenly  the  clear  childish  challenge: 

"  I  want  you  to  tell  me  a  story/' 

The  wind  blew,  the  story  began,  the  child  nestled  against 
the  mother,  BrangVen  waited  outside,  suspended,  looking  at 
the  wild  waving  of  the  trees  in  the  wind  and  the  gathering 
darkness.  He  had  his  fate  to  follow,  he  lingered  here  at  the 
threshold. 

The  child  crouched  distinct  and  motionless,  curled  in 
against  her  mother,  the  eyes  dark  and  unblinking  among  the 
keen  wisps  of  hair,  like  a  curled-up  animal  asleep  but  for  the 
eyes.  The  mother  sat  as  if  in  shadow,  the  story  went  on  as 
if  by  itself/  Brangwen  stood  outside  seeing  the  night  fall. 
He  did  not  notice  the  passage  of  time.  The  hand  that  held 
the  daffodils  was  fixed  and  cold. 

The  story  came  to  an  end,  the  mother  rose  at  last,  with  the 
child  clinging  round  her  neck.  She  must  be  strong,  to  carry- 
so  large  a  child  so  easily.  The  little  Anna  clung  round 
her  mother's  neck.  The  fair,  strange  face  of  the  child  looked 
over  the  shoulder  of  the  mother,  all  asleep  but  the  eyes,  and 
these,  wide  and  dark,  kept  up  the  resistance  and  the  fight 
with  something  unseen. 

When  they  were  gone,  Brangwen  stirred  for  the  first  time 
from  the  place  where  he  stood,  and  looked  round  at  the  night. 
He  wished  it  were  really  as  beautiful  and  familiar  as  it 
seemed  in  these  few  moments  of  release.  Along  with  the 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       37 

child,  lie  felt  a  curious  strain  on  him,  a  suffering,  like  a  fate. 

The  mother  came  down  again,  and  began  folding  the  child's 
clothes.  He  knocked.  She  opened  wondering,  a  little  bit 
at  bay,  like  a  foreigner,  uneasy. 

"  Good-evening,"  he  said.     "  I'll  just  come  in  a  minute/' 

A  change  went  quickly  over  her  face ;  she  was  unprepared. 
She  looked  down  at  him  as  he  stood  in  the  light  from  the 
window,  holding  the  daffodils,  the  darkness  behind.  In  his 
black  clothes  she  again  did  not  know  him.  She  was  almost 
afraid. 

But  he  was  already  stepping  on  to  the  threshold,  and  clos- 
ing the  door  behind  him.  She  turned  into  the  kitchen, 
startled  out  of  herself  by  this  invasion  from  the  night.  He 
took  off  his  hat,  and  came  towards  her.  Then  he  stood  in 
the  light,  in  his  black  clothes  and  his  black  stock,  hat  in  one 
hand  and  yellow  flowers  in  the  other.  She  stood  away,  at 
his  mercy,  snatched  out  of  herself.  She  did  not  know  him, 
only  she  knew  he  was  a  man  come  for  her.  She  could  only 
see  the  dark-clad  man's  figure  standing  there  upon  her,  and 
the  gripped  fist  of  flowers.  She  could  not  see  the  face  and 
the  living  eyes. 

He  was  watching  her,  without  knowing  her,  only  aware 
underneath  of  her  presence. 

."  I  come  to  have  a  word  with  you,"  he  said,  striding  for- 
ward to  the  table,  laying  down  his  hat  and  the  flowers, 
which  tumbled  apart  and  lay  in  a  loose  heap.  She  had 
flinched  from  his  advance.  She  had  no  will,  no  being.  The 
wind  boomed  in  the  chimney,  and  he  waited.  He  had  dis- 
embarrassed his  hands.  Now  he  shut  his  fists. 

He  was  aware  of  her  standing  there  unknown,  dread,  yet 
related  to  him. 

"  I  came  up,"  he  said,  speaking  curiously  matter-of-fact 
and  level,  "  to  ask  if  you'd  marry  me.  You  are  free,  aren't 
you?" 

There  was  a  long  silence,  whilst  his  blue  eyes,  strangely 
impersonal,  looked  into  her  eyes  to  seek  an  answer  to  the 
truth.  He  was  looking  for  the  truth  out  of  her.  And  she, 
as  if  hypnotized,  must  answer  at  length. 

"  Yes,  I  am  free  to  marry." 

The  expression  of  his  eyes  changed,  became  less  impersonal, 
as  if  he  were  looking  almost  at  her,  for  the  truth  of 
her.  Steady  and  intent  and  eternal  they  were,  as  if  they 
would  never  change.  They  seemed  to  fix  and  to  resolve 


38  THE  RAINBOW 

her.  She  quivered,  feeling  herself  created,  will-less,  lapsing 
into  him,  into  a  common  will  with  him. 

"You  want  me?"  she  said. 

A  pallor  came  over  his  face. 

"  Yes/'  he  said. 

Still  there  was  suspense  and  silence. 

"No,"  she  said,  not  of  herself.     "No,  I  don't  know." 

He  felt  the  tension  breaking  up  in  him,  his  fists  slack- 
tened,  he  was  unable  to  move.  He  stood  looking  at  her, 
helpless  in  his  vague  collapse.  For  the  moment  she  had 
become  unreal  to  him.  Then  he  saw  her  come  to  him,  curi- 
ously direct  and  as  if  without  movement,  in  a  sudden  flow. 
She  put  her  hand  to  his»coat. 

"Yes  I  want  to,"  she  said,  impersonally,  looking  at  him 
with  wide,  candid,  newly-opened  eyes,  opened  now  with 
supreme  truth.  He  went  very  white  as  he  stood,  and  did 
not  move,  only  his  eyes  we/e  held  by  hers,  and  he  suffered. 
She  .seemed  to  see  him  with  her  newly-opened,  wide  eyes, 
almost  of  a  child,  and  with  a  strange  movement,  that  was 
agony  to  him,  she  reached  slowly  forward  her  dark  face  and 
her  breast  to  him,  with  a  slow  insinuation  of  a  kiss  that 
made  something  break  in  his  brain,  and  it  was  darkness  over 
him  for  a  few  moments. 

He  had  her  in  his  arms,  and,  obliterated,  was  kissing  her. 
And  it  was  sheer,  blenched  agony  to  him,  to  break  away  from 
himself.  She  was  there  so  small  and  light  and  accepting  in 
his  arms,  like  a  child,  and  yet  with  such  an  insinuation  of 
embrace,  of  infinite  embrace,  that  he  could  not  bear  it,  he 
eould  not  stand. 

He  turned  and  looked  for  a  chair,  and  keeping  her  still  in 
his  arms,  sat  down  with  her  close  to  him,  to  his  breast.  Then, 
for  a  few  seconds,  he  went  utterly  to  sleep,  asleep  and  sealed 
in  the  darkest  sleep,  utter,  extreme  oblivion. 

From  which  he  came  to  gradually,  always  holding  her  warm 
and  close  upon  him,  and  she  as  utterly  silent  as  he,  involved 
in  the  same  oblivion,  the  fecund  darkness. 

He  returned  gradually,  but  newly  created,  as  after  a  ges- 
tation, a  new  birth,  in  the  womb  of  darkness.  Aerial 
and  light  everything  was,  new  as  a  morning,  fresh  and 
newly-begun.  Like  a  dawn  the  newness  and  the  bliss 
filled  in.  And  she  sat  utterly  still  with  him,  as  if  in  the 
same. 

Then  she  looked  up  at  him,  the  wide,  young  eyes  blazing 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY       39 

with  light.  And  he  bent  down  and  kissed  her  on  the  lips. 
And  the  dawn  blazed  in  them,  their  new  life  came  to  pass, 
it  was  beyond  all  conceiving  good,  it  was  so  good,  that  it 
was  almost  like  a  passing-away,  a  trespass.  He  drew  her 
suddenly  closer  to  him. 

For  soon  the  light  began  to  fade  in  her,  gradually,  and  as 
she  was  in  his  arms,  her  head  sank,  she  leaned  it  against 
him,  and  lay  still,  with  sunk  head,  a  little  tired,  effaced 
because  she  was  tired.  And  in  her  tiredness  was  a  certain 
negation  of  him. 

"  There  is  the  child/7  she  said,  out  of  the  long  silence. 

He  did  not  understand.  It  was  a  long  time  since  he  had 
heard  a  voice.  Now  also  he  heard  the  wind  roaring,  as  if  it 
had  just  begun  again. 

"  Yes,"  he  said,  not  understanding.  There  was  a  slight 
contraction  of  pain  at  his  heart,  a  slight  tension  on  his  brows. 
Something  he  wanted  to  grasp  and  could  not. 

"You  will  love  her?"  she  said. 

The  quick  contraction,  like  pain,  went  over  him   again. 

"  I  love  her  now,"  he  said. 

She  lay  still  against  him,  taking  his  physical  warmth  with- 
out heed.  It  was  great  confirmation  for  him  to  feel  her 
there,  absorbing  the  warmth  from  him,  giving  him  back  her 
weight  and  her  strange  confidence.  But  where  was  she,  that 
she  seemed  so  absent?  His  mind  was  open  with  wonder. 
He  did  not  know  her. 

"But  I  am  much  older  than  you,"  she  said. 

"How  old?"  he  asked. 

"  I  am  thirty-four,"  she  said. 

"  I  am  twenty-eight,"  he  said. 

"  Six  years." 

She  was  oddly  concerned,  even  as  if  it  pleased  her  a  lit- 
tle. He  sat  and  listened  and  wondered.  It  was  rather 
splendid,  to  be  so  ignored  by  her,  whilst  she  lay  against  him, 
and  he  lifted  her  with  his  breathing,  and  felt  her  weight  upon 
his  living,  so  he  had  a  completeness  and  an  inviolable  power. 
He  did  not  interfere  with  her.  He  did  not  even  know  her. 
It  was  so  strange  that  she  \  lay  there  with  her  weight  aban- 
doned upon  him.  He  was  silent  with  delight.  He  felt 
strong,  physically,  carrying  her  on  his  breathing.  The 
strange,  inviolable  completeness  of  the  two  of  them  made 
him  feel  as  sure  and  as  stable  as  God.  Amused,  he  won- 
dered what  the  vicar  would  say  if  he  knew. 


40  THE  RAINBOW 

"You  needn't  stop  here  much  longer,  housekeeping/'  he 
said. 

"  I  like  it  also,  here/'  she  said.  "  When  one  has  been  in 
many  places,  it  is  very  nice  here." 

He  was  silent  again  at  this.  So  close  on  him  she  lay,  and 
yet  she  answered  him  from  so  far  away.  But  he  did  not 
mind. 

"  What  was  your  own  home  like,  when  you  were  little  ?  " 
he  asked. 

"  My  father  was  a  landowner/'  she  replied.  "  It  was  near 
a  river." 

This  did  not  convey  much  to  him.  All  was  as  vague  as 
before.  But  he  did  not  care,  whilst  she  was  so  close. 

"  I  am  a  landowner  —  a  little  one/'  he  said. 

"Yes,"  she  said. 

He  had  not  dared  to  move.  He  sat  there  with  his  arms 
round  her,  her  lying  motionless  on  his  breathing,  and  for  a 
long  time  he  did  not  stir.  Then  softly,  timidly,  his  hand 
settled  on  the  roundness  of  her  arm,  on  the  unknown.  She 
seemed  to  lie  a  little  closer.  A  hot  flame  licked  up  from  his 
belly  to  his  chest. 

But  it  was  too  soon:  She  rose,  and  went  across  the  room 
to  a  drawer,  taking  out  a  little  tray-cloth.  There  was  some- 
thing quiet  and  professional  about  her.  She  had  been  a 
aurse  beside  her  husband,  both  in  Warsaw  and  in  the  re- 
bellion afterwards.  She  proceeded  to  set  a  tray.  It  was  as 
if  she  ignored  Brangwen.  He  sat  up,  unable  to  bear  a  con- 
tradiction in  her.  She  moved  about  inscrutably. 

Then,  as  he  sat  there,  all  mused  and  wondering,  she  came 
near  to  him,  looking  at  him  with  wide,  grey  eyes  that  almost 
smiled  with  a  low  light.  But  her  ugly-beautiful  mouth  was 
still  unmoved  and  sad.  He  was  afraid. 

His  eyes,  strained  and  roused  with  unusedness,  quailed  a 
little  before  her,  he  felt  himself  quailing  and  yet  he  rose,  as 
if  obedient  to  her,  he  bent  and  kissed  her  heavy,  sad,  wide 
mouth,  that  was  kissed,  and  did  not  alter.  Fear  was  too 
strong  in  him.  Again  he  had  not  got  her. 

She  turned  away.  The  vicarage  kitchen  was  untidy,  and 
yet  to  him  beautiful  with  the  untidiness  of  her  and  her  child. 
Such  a  wonderful  remoteness  there  was  about  her,  and  then 
something  in  touch  with  him,  that  made  his  heart  knock  in 
tiis  chest.  He  stood  there  and  waited,  suspended. 

Again  she  came  to  him,  as  he  stood  in. his  black  clothes, 


HOW  BRANGWEN  MARRIED  A  POLISH  LADY      41 

with  blue  eyes  very  bright  and  puzzled  for  her,  his  face 
tensely  alive,  his  hair  dishevelled.  She  came  close  up  to 
him,  to  his  intent,  black-clothed  body,  and  laid  her  hand  on 
his  arm.  He  remained  unmoved.  Her  eyes,  with  a  black- 
ness of  memory  struggling  with  passion,  primitive  and  elec- 
tric away  at  the  back  of  them,  rejected  him  and  absorbed 
him  at  once.  But  he  remained  himself.  He  breathed  with 
difficulty,  and  sweat  came  out  at  the  roots  of  his  hair,  on  his 
forehead. 

"  Do  you  want  to  marry  me  ?  "  she  asked  slowly,  alway? 
uncertain. 

He  was  afraid  lest  he  could  not  speak.  He  drew  breath 
hard,  saying : 

"  I  do." 

Then  again,  what  was  agony  to  him,  with  one  hand  lightly 
resting  on  his  arm,  she  leaned  forward  a  little,  and  with 
a  strange,  primeval  suggestion  of  embrace,  held  him  her 
mouth.  It  was  ugly-beautiful,  and  he  could  not  bear  it. 
He  put  his  mouth  on  hers,  and  slowly,  slowly  the  response 
came,  gathering  force  and  passion,  till  it  seemed  to  him  she 
was  thundering  at  him  till  he  could  bear  no  more.  He  drew 
away,  white,  unbreathing.  Only,  in  his  blue  eyes,  was 
something  of  himself  concentrated.  And  in  her  eyes  was  a 
little  smile  upon  a  black  void. 

She  was  drifting  away  from  him  again.  And  he  wanted 
to  go  away.  It  was  intolerable.  He  could  bear  no  more. 
He  must  go.  Yet  he  was  irresolute.  But  she  turned  away 
from  him. 

With  a  little  pang  of  anguish,  of  denial,  it  was  decided. 

"  I'll  come  an'  speak  to  the  vicar  to-morrow,"  he  said, 
taking  his  hat. 

She  looked  at  him,  her  eyes  expressionless  and  full  of  dark- 
ness. He  could  see  no  answer. 

"That'll  do,  won't  it?"  he  said. 

"  Yes,"  she  answered,  mere  echo  without  body  or  meaning. 

"  Goodnight,"  he  said. 

"  Goodnight." 

.  He  left  her  standing  there,  expressionless  and  void  as  she 
was.  Then  she  went  on  laying  the  tray  for  the  vicar.  Need- 
ing the  table,  she  put  the  daffodils  aside  on  the  dresser  with- 
out noticing  them.  Only  their  coolness,  touching  her  hand, 
remained  echoing  there  a  long  while. 

They  were  such  strangers,  they  must  for  ever  be  such 


42  THE  RAINBOW 

strangers,  that  his  passion  was  a  clanging  torment  to  him. 
Such  intimacy  of  embrace,  and  such  utter  foreignness  of 
contact!  It  was  unbearable.  He  could  not  bear  to  be  near 
her,  and  know  the  utter  foreignness  between  them,  know  how 
entirely  they  were  strangers  to  each  other.  He  went  out 
into  the  wind.  Big  holes  were  blown  into  the  sky,  the  moon- 
light blew  about.  Sometimes  a  high  moon,  liquid-brilliant, 
scudded  across  a  hollow  space  and  took  cover  under  electric, 
brown-iridescent  cloud-edges.  Then  there  was  a  blot  of 
cloud,  and  shadow.  Then  somewhere' in  the  night  a  radiance 
again,  like  a  vapour.  And  all  the  sky  was  teeming  and, 
tearing  along,  a  vast  disorder  of  flying  shapes  and  darkness 
and  ragged  fumes  of  light  and  a  great  brown  circling  halo, 
then  the  terror  of  a  moon  running  liquid-brilliant  into  the 
open  for  a  moment,  hurting  the  eyes  before  she  plunged  un- 
der cover  of  cloud  again. 


CHAPTER  II 

THEY  LIVE  AT  THE   MARSH 

SHE  was  the  daughter  of  a  Polish  landowner  who, 
deeply  in  debt  to  the  Jews,  had  married  a  German  wife 
with  money,  and  who  had  died  just  before  the  re- 
bellion. Quite  young,  she  had  married  Paul  Lensky, 
an  intellectual  who  had  studied  at  Berlin,  and  had  returned  to 
Warsaw  a  patriot.  Her  mother  had  married  a  German 
merchant  and  gone  away. 

Lydia  Lensky,  married  to  the  young  doctor,  became  with 
him  a  patriot  and  an  emancipee.  They  were  poor,  but  they 
were  very  conceited.  She  learned  nursing  as  a  mark  of  her 
emancipation.  They  represented  in  Poland  the  new  move- 
ment just  begun  in  Eussia.  But  they  were  very  patriotic : 
and,  at  the  same  time,  very  "  European/' 

They  had  two  children.  Then  came  the  great  rebellion. 
Lensky,  very  ardent  and  full  of  words,  went  about  inciting 
his  countrymen.  Little  Poles  flamed  down  the  streets  of 
Warsaw,  on  the  way  to  shoot  every  Muscovite.  So  they 
crossed  into  the  south  of  Russia,  and  it  was  common  for 
six  little  insurgents  to  ride  into  a  Jewish  village,  brandishing 
swords  and  words,  emphasizing  the  fact  that  they  were  going 
to  shoot  every  living  Muscovite. 

Lensky  was  something  of  a  fire-eater  also.  Lydia,  tem- 
pered by  her  German  blood,  coming  of  a  different  family,  was 
obliterated,  carried  along  in  her  husband's  emphasis  of 
declaration,  and  his  whirl  of  patriotism.  He  was  indeed  a 
brave  man,  but  no  bravery  could  quite  have  equalled  the 
vividness  of  his  talk.  He  worked  very  hard,  till  nothing 
lived  in  him  but  his  eyes.  And  Lydia,  as  if  drugged,  followed 
him  like  a  shadow,  serving,  echoing.  Sometimes  she  had 
her  two  children,  sometimes  they  were  left  behind. 

She  returned  once  to  find  them  both  dead  of  diphtheria, 
Her  husband  wept  aloud,  unaware  of  everybody.  But  the 
war  went  on,  and  soon  he  was  back  at  his  work.  A  dark' 
ness  had  come  over  Lydia's  mind.  She  walked  always  in  a 
shadow,  silenced,  with  a  strange,  deep  terror  having  hold  of 

43 


44  THE  RAINBOW 

her,  her  desire  was  to  seek  satisfaction  in  dread,  to  enter  a 
nunnery,  to  satisfy  the  instincts  of  dread  in  her,  through 
service  of  a  dark  religion.  But  she  could  not. 

Then  came  the  flight  to  London.  Lensky,  the  little,  thin 
man,  had  got  all  his  life  locked  into  a  resistance  and  could 
not  relax  again.  He  lived  in  a  sort  of  insane  irritability, 
touchy,  haughty  to  the  last  degree,  fractious,  so  that  as  as- 
sistant doctor  in  one  of  the  hospitals  he  soon  became  im- 
possible. They  were  almost  beggars.  But  he  kept  still  his 
great  ideas  of  himself,  he  seemed  to  live  in  a  complete  hallu- 
cination, where  he  himself  figured  vivid  and  lordly.  He 
guarded  his  wife  jealously  against  the  ignominy  of  her  posi- 
tion, rushed  round  her  like  a  brandished  weapon,  an  amazing 
sight  to  the  English  eye,  had  her  in  his  power,  as  if  he  hypno- 
tized her.  She  was  passive,  dark,  always  in  shadow. 

He  was  wasting  away.  Already  when  the  child  was  born 
he  seemed  nothing  but  skin  and  bone  and  fixed  idea.  She 
watched  him  dying,  nursed  him,  nursed  the  baby,  but  really 
took  no  notice  of  anything.  A  darkness  was  on  her,  like  re- 
morse, or  like  a  remembering  of  the  dark,  savage,  mystic  ride 
of  dread,  of  death,  of  the  shadow  of  revenge.  When  her 
husband  died,  she  was  relieved.  He  would  no  longer  dart 
about  her. 

England  fitted  her  mood,  its  aloofness  and  foreignness. 
She  had  known  a  little  of  the  language  before  coming,  and 
a  sort  of  parrot-mind  made  her  pick  it  up  fairly  easily.  But 
she  knew  nothing  of  the  English,  nor  of  English  life.  In- 
deed, these  did  not  exist  for  her.  She  was  like  one  walking 
in  the  Underworld,  where  the  shades  throng  intelligibly  but 
have  no  connection  with  one.  She  felt  the  English  people 
as  a  potent,  cold,  slightly  hostile  host  amongst  whom  she 
walked  isolated. 

The  English  people  themselves  were  almost  deferential  to 
her,  the  Church  saw  that  she  did  not  want.  She  walked 
without  passion,  like  a  shade,  tormented  into  moments  of 
love  by  the  child.  Her  dying  husband  with  his  tortured 
eyes  and  the  skin  drawn  tight  over  his  face,  he  was  as  a 
vision  to  her,  not  a  reality.  In  a  vision  he  was  buried  and 
put  away.  Then  the  vision  ceased,  she  was  untroubled, 
time  went  on  grey,  uncoloured,  like  a  long  journey  where 
she  sat  unconscious  as  the  landscape  unrolled  beside  her. 
When  she  rocked  her  baby  at  evening,  maybe  she  fell  into  a 
Polish  slumber  song,  or  she  talked  sometimes  to  herself  in 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  45 

Polish.  Otherwise  she  did  not  think  of  Poland,  nor  of  that 
life  to  which  she  had  belonged.  It  was  a  great  blot  looming 
blank  in  its  darkness.  In  the  superficial  activity  of  her  life, 
she  was  all  English.  She  even  thought  in  English.  But  her 
long  blanks  and  darknesses  of  abstraction  were  Polish. 

So  she  lived  for  some  time.  Then,  with  slight  uneasiness, 
she  used  half  to  awake  to  the  streets  of  London.  She  realized 
that  there  was  something  around  her,  very  foreign,  she 
realized  she  was  in  a  strange  place.  And  then,  she  was; 
sent  away  into  the  country.  There  came  into  her  mind 
now  the  memory  of  her  home  where  she  had  been  a  child, 
the  big  house  among  the  land,  the  peasants  of  the  village 

She  was  sent  to  Yorkshire,  to  nurse  an  old  rector  in  hi? 
rectory  by  the  sea.  This  was  the  first  shake  of  the  kaleido- 
scope that  brought  in  front  of  her  eyes  something  she  must 
see.  It  hurt  her  brain,  the  open  country  and  the  moors.  It 
hurt  her  and  hurt  her.  Yet  it  forced  itself  upon  her  as  some- 
thing living,  it  roused  some  potency  of  her  childhood  in  her, 
it  had  some  relation  to  her. 

There  was  green  and  silver  and  blue  in  the  air  about  her 
now.  And  there  was  a  strange  insistence  of  light  from  the 
sea,  to  which  she  must  attend.  Primroses  glimmered  around,, 
many  of  'them,  and  she  stooped  to  the  disturbing  influence 
near  her  feet,  she  even  picked  one  or  two  flowers,  faintly 
remembering  in  the  new  colour  of  life,  what  had  been.  All 
the  day  long,  as  she  sat  at  the  upper  window,  the  light  came 
off  the  sea,  constantly,  constantly,  without  refusal,  till  it 
seemed  to  bear  her  away,  and  the  noise  of  the  sea  created  a 
drowsiness  in  her,  a  relaxation  like  sleep.  Her  automatic 
consciousness  gave  way  a  little,  she  stumbled  sometimes,  she 
had  a  poignant,  momentary  vision  of  her  living  child,  that 
hurt  her  unspeakably.  Her  soul  roused  to  attention. 

Very  strange  was  the  constant  glitter  of  the  sea  unsheathed 
in  heaven,  very  warm  and  sweet  the  graveyard,  in  a  nook 
of  the  hill  catching  the  sunshine  and  holding  it  as  one  holds 
a  bee  between  the  palms  of  the  hands,  when  it  is  benumbed. 
Grey  grass  and  lichens  and  a  little  church,  and  snowdrops 
among  coarse  grass,  and  a  cupful  of  incredibly  warm  sun- 
shine. 

She  was  troubled  in  spirit.  Hearing  the  rushing  of  the 
beck  away  down  under  the  trees,  she  was  startled,  and  won- 
dered what  it  was.  Walking  down,  she  found  the  bluebells 
around  her  glowing  like  a  presence,  among  the  trees. 


46  THE  RAINBOW 

Summer  came,  the  moors  were  tangled  with  harebells  like 
water  in  the  ruts  of  the  roads,  the  heather  came  rosy  under 
the  skies,  setting  the  whole  world  awake.  And  she  was  un- 
easy. She  went  past  the  gorse  bushes  shrinking  from  their 
presence,  she  stepped  into  the  heather  as  into  a  quickening 
bath  that  almost  hurt.  Her  fingers  moved  over  the  clasped 
fingers  of  the  child,  she  heard  the  anxious  voice  of  the  baby, 
as  it  tried  to  make  her  talk,  distraught. 

And  she  shrank  away  again,  back  into  her  darkness,  and 
for  a  long  while  remained  blotted  safely  away  from  living. 
But  autumn  came  with  the  faint  red  glimmer  of  robins  sing- 
ing, winter  darkened  the  moors,  and  almost  savagely  she 
turned  again  to  life,  demanding  her  life  back  again,  demand- 
ing that  it  should  be  as  it  had  been  when  she  was  a  girl, 
on  the  land  at  home,  under  the  sky.  Snow  lay  in  great 
expanses,  the  telegraph  posts  strode  over  the  white  earth, 
away  under  the  gloom  of  the  sky.  And  savagely  her  desire 
rose  in  her  again,  demanding  that  this  was  Poland,  her 
youth,  that  all  was  her  own  again. 

But  there  were  no  sledges  nor  bells,  she  did  not  see  the 
peasants  coming  out  like  new  people,  in  their  sheepskins  and 
their  fresh,  ruddy,  bright  faces,  that  seemed  to  become  new 
and  vivid  when  the  snow  lit  up  the  ground.  It  did  not  come 
to  her,  the  life  of  her  youth,  it  did  not  come  back.  There 
was  a  little  agony  of  struggle,  then  a  relapse  into  the  dark- 
ness of  the  convent,  where  Satan  and  the  devils  raged  round 
the  walls,  and  Christ  was  white  on  the  cross  of  victory. 

She  watched  from  the  sick-room  the  snow  whirl  past,  like 
flocks  of  shadows  in  haste,  flying  on  some  final  mission  out 
to  a  leaden  inalterable  sea,  beyond  the  final  whiteness  of  the 
curving  shore,  and  the  snow-speckled  blackness  of  the  rocks 
half  submerged.  But  near  at  hand  on  the  trees  the  snow 
was  soft  in  bloom.  Only  the  voice  of  the  dying  vicar  spoke 
grey  and  querulous  from  behind. 

By  the  time  the  snowdrops  were  out,  however,  he  was  dead. 
He  was  dead.  But  with  curious  equanimity  the  returning 
woman  watched  the  snowdrops  on  the  edge  of  the  grass  be- 
low, blown  white  in  the  wind,  but  not  to  be  blown  away. 
She  watched  them  fluttering  and  bobbing,  the  white,  shut 
flowers,  anchored  by  a  thread  to  the  grey-green  grass,  yet 
never  blown  away,  not  drifting  with  the  wind. 

As  she  rose  in  the  morning,  the  dawn  was  beating  up 
white,  gusts  of  light  blown  like  a  thin  snowstorm  from  the 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  47 

east,  blown  stronger  and  fiercer,  till  the  rose  appeared,  and 
the  gold,  and  the  sea  lit  up  below.  She  was  impassive  and 
indifferent.  Yet  she  was  outside  the  enclosure  of  darkness. 

There  passed  a  space  of  shadow  again,  the  familiarity  of 
dread-worship,  during  which  she  was  moved,  oblivious,  to 
Cossethay.  There,  at  first,  there  was  nothing  —  just  grey 
nothing.  But  then  one  morning  there  was  a  light  from  the 
yellow  jasmine  caught  her,  and  after  that,  morning  and  even- 
ing, the  persistent  ringing  of  thrushes  from  the  shrubbery, 
till  her  heart,  beaten  upon,  was  forced  to  lift  up  its  voice 
in  rivalry  and  answer.  Little  tunes  came  into  her  mind 
She  was  full  of  trouble  almost  like  anguish.  Eesistant,  she 
knew  she  was  beaten,  and  from  fear  of  darkness  turned  to 
fear  of  light.  She  would  have  hidden  herself  indoors,  if  she 
could.  Above  all,  she  craved  for  the  peace  and  heavy  ob- 
livion of  her  old  state.  She  could  not  bear  to  come  to,  to 
realize.  The  first  pangs  of  this  new  parturition  were  so 
acute,  she  knew  she  could  not  bear  it.  She  would  rather 
remain  out  of  life,  than  be  torn,  mutilated  into  this  birth, 
which  she  could  not  survive.  She  had  not  the  strength  to 
come  to  life  now,  in  England,  so  foreign,  skies  so  hostile. 
She  knew  she  would  die  like  an  early,  colourless,  scentless 
flower  that  the  end  of  the  winter  puts  forth  mercilessly.  And 
she  wanted  to  harbour  her  modicum  of  twinkling  life. 

But  a  sunshiny  day  came  full  of  the  scent  of  a  mezereon 
tree,  when  bees  were  tumbling  into  the  yellow  crocuses,  and 
she  forgot,  she  felt  like  somebody  else,  not  herself,  a  new 
person,  quite  glad.  But  she  knew  it  was  fragile,  and  she 
dreaded  it.  The  vicar  put  pea-flower  into  the  crocuses,  for 
his  bees  to  roll  in,  and  she  laughed.  Then  night  came,  with 
brilliant  stars  that  she  knew  of  old,  from  her  girlhood.  And 
they  flashed  so  bright,  she  knew  they  were  victors. 

She  could  neither  wake  nor  sleep.  As  if  crushed  between 
the  past  and  the  future,  like  a  flower  that  comes  above-ground 
to  find  a  gre<*t  stone  lying  above  it,  she  was  helpless/ 

The  bewilderment  and  helplessness  continued,  she  was 
surrounded  by  great  moving  masses  that  must  crush  her. 
And  there  was  no  escape.  Save  in  the  old  obliviousness,  the 
cold  darkness  she  strove  to  retain.  But  the  vicar  showed 
her  eggs  in  the  thrush's  nest  near  the  back  door.  She  saw 
herself  the  mother-thrush  upon  the  nest,  and  the  way  her 
wings  were  spread,  so  eager  down  upon  her  secret.  Th0 
tense,  eager,  nesting  wings  moved  her  beyond  endurance, 


48  THE  RAINBOW 

She  thought  of  them  in  the  morning,  when  she  heard  the 
thrush  whistling  as  he  got  up,  and  she  thought,  "  Why  didn't 
I  die  out  there,  why  am  I  brought  here  ?  " 

She  was  aware  of  people  who  passed  around  her,  not  as 
persons,  but  as  looming  presences.  It  was  very  difficult  for 
her  to  adjust  herself.  In  Poland,  the  peasantry,  the  people, 
had  been  cattle  to  her,  they  had  been  her  cattle  that  she 
owned  and  used.  What  were  these  people?  Now  she  was 
coming  awake,  she  was  lost. 

But  she  had  felt  Brangden  go  by  almost  as  if  he  had 
brushed  her.  She  had  tingled  in  body  as  she  had  gone  on 
up  the  road.  After  she  had  been  with  him  in  the  Marsh 
kitchen,  the  voice  of  her  body  had  risen  strong  and  insistent. 
Soon,  she  wanted  him.  He  was  the  man  who  had  come  near- 
est to  her  for  her  awakening. 

Always,  however,  between-whiles  she  lapsed  into  the  old 
unconsciousness,  indifference  and  there  was  a  will  in  her  to 
save  herself  from  living  any  more.  But  she  would  wake  in 
the  morning  one  day  and  feel  her  blood  running,  feel  herself 
lying  open  like  a  flower  unsheathed  in  the  sun,  insistent  and 
potent  with  demand. 

She  got  to  know  him  better,  and  her  instinct  fixed  on  him 
—  just  on  him.  Her  impulse  was  strong  against  him,  because 
he  was  not  of  her  own  sort.  But  one  blind  instinct  led 
her,  to  take  him,  to  have  him,  and  then  to  relinquish  herself 
to  him.  It  would  be  safety.  She  felt  the  rooted  safety  of 
him,  and  the  life  in  him.  Also  he  was  young  and  very 
fresh.  The  blue,  steady  livingness  of  his  eyes  she  enjoyed 
like  morning.  He  was  very  young. 

Then  she,  lapsed  again  to  stupor  and  indifference.  This, 
however,  was  bound  to  pass.  The  warmth  flowed  through 
her,  she  felt  herself  opening,  unfolding,  asking,  as  a  flower 
opens  in  full  request  under  the  sun,  as  the  beaks  of  tiny  birds 
open  flat,  to  receive,  to  receive.  And  unfolded  she  turned 
to  him,  straight  to  him.  And  he  came,  slowly,  afraid,  held 
back  by  uncouth  fear,  and  driven  by  a  desire  bigger  than 
himself. 

When  she  opened  and  turned  to  him,  then  all  that  had 
been  and  all  that  was,  was  gone  from  her,  she  was  as  new  as 
a  flower  that  unsheathes  itself  and  stands  always  ready, 
waiting,  receptive.  He  could  not  understand  this.  He 
.  forced  himself,  through  lack  of  understanding,  to  the  adher- 
ence to  the  line  of  honourable  courtship  and  sanctioned, 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  49 

licensed  marriage.  Therefore,  after  he  had  gone  to  the 
vicarage  and  asked  for  her,  she  remained  for  some  days  held 
in  this  one  spell,  open,  receptive  to  him,  before  him.  He 
was  roused  to  chaos.  He  spoke  to  the  vicar  and  gave  in  the 
banns.  Then  he  stood  to  wait. 

She  remained  attentive  and  instinctively  expectant  before 
him,  unfolded,  ready  to  receive  him.  He  could  not  act,  be- 
cause of  self-fear  and  because  of  his  conception  of  honour 
towards  her.  So  he  remained  in  a  state  of  chaos. 

And  after  a  few  days,  gradually  she  closed  again,  away 
from  him,  was  sheathed  over,  impervious  to  him,  oblivious, 
Then  a  black,  bottomless  despair  became  real  to  him,  he  knew 
what  he  had  lost.  He  felt  he  had  lost  it  for  good,  he  knew 
what  it  was  to  have  been  in  communication  with  her,  and  to 
be  cast  off.  again.  In  misery,  his  heart  like  a  heavy  stone, 
he  went  about  unliving. 

Till  gradually  he  became  desperate,  lost  his  understanding, 
was  plunged  in  a  revolt  that  knew  no  bounds.  Inarticulate, 
he  moved  with  her  at  the  Marsh  in  violent,  gloomy,  wordless 
passion,  almost  in  hatred  of  her.  Till  gradually  she  became 
aware  of  him,  aware  of  herself  with  regard  to  him,  her  blood 
stirred  to  life,  she  began  to  open  towards  him,  to  flow  towards 
him  again.  He  waited  till  the  spell  was  between  them  again, 
till  they  were  together  within  one  rushing,  hastening  flame. 
And  then  again  he  was  bewildered,  he  was  tied  up  as  with 
cords,  and  could  not  move  to  her.  So  she  came  to  him,  and 
unfastened  the  breast  of  his  waistcoat  and  his  shirt,  and  put 
her  hand  on  him,  needing  to  know  him.  For  it  was  cruel  to 
her,  to  be  opened  and  offered  to  him,  yet  not  to  know  what 
he  was,  not  even  that  he  was  there.  She  gave  herself  to  the 
hour,  but  he  could  not,  and  he  bungled  in  taking  her. 

So  that  he  lived  in  suspense,  as  if  only  half  his  faculties 
worked,  until  the  wedding.  She  did  not  understand.  But 
the  vagueness  came  over  her  again,  and  the  days  lapsed  by. 
He  could  not  get  definitely  into  touch  with  her.  For  the 
time  being,  she  let  him  go  again. 

He  suffered  very  much  from  the  thought  of  actual  mar- 
riage, the  intimacy  and  nakedness  of  marriage.  He  knew 
her  so  little.  They  were  so  foreign  to  each  other,  they  were 
such  strangers.  And  they  could  not  talk  to  each  other. 
When  she  talked,  of  Poland  or  of  what  had  been,  it  was  all 
so  foreign,  she  scarcely  communicated  anything  to  him.  And 
when  he  looked  at  her,  an  over-much  reverence  and  fear  of 


50  THE  RAINBOW 

the  unknown  changed  the  nature  of  his  desire  into  a  sort 
of  worship,  holding  her  aloof  from  his  physical  desire,  self- 
thwarting. 

She  did  not  know  this,  she  did  not  understand.  They 
had  looked  at  each  other,  and  had  accepted  each  other.  It 
was  so,  then  there  was  nothing  to  balk  at,  it  was  complete 
between  them. 

At  the  wedding,  his  face  was  stiff  and  expressionless.  He 
wanted  to  drink,  to  get  rid  of  his  forethought  and  after- 
thought, to  set  the  moment  free.  But  he  could  not.  The 
suspense  only  tightened  at  his  heart.  The  jesting  and 
joviality  and  jolly,  broad  insinuation  of  the  guests  only  coiled 
him  more.  He  could  not  hear.  That  which  was  impending 
obsessed  him,  he  could  not  get  free. 

She  sat  quiet,  with  a  strange,  still  smile.  She  was  not 
afraid.  Having  accepted  him,  she  wanted  to  take  him,  she 
belonged  altogether  to  the  hour,  now.  No  future,  no  past, 
only  this,  her  hour.  She  did  not  even  notice  him,  as  she  sat 
beside  him  at  the  head  of  the  table.  He  was  very  near,  their 
coming  together  was  close  at  hand.  What  more ! 

As  the  time  came  for  all  the  guests  to  go,  her  dark  face 
was  softly  lighted,  the  bend  of  her  head  was  proud,  her  grey 
eyes  clear  and  dilated,  so  that  the  men  could  not  look  at  her, 
and  the  women  were  elated  by  her,  they  served  her.  Very 
wonderful  she  was,  as  she  bade  farewell,  her  ugly  wide  mouth 
smiling  with  pride  and  recognition,  her  voice  speaking  softly 
and  richly  in  the  foreign  accent,  her  dilated  eyes  ignoring 
one  and  all  the  departing  guests.  Her  manner  was  gracious 
and  fascinating,  but  she  ignored  the  being  of  him  or  her  to 
whom  she  gave  her  hand. 

And  Brangwen  stood  beside  her,  giving  his  hearty  hand- 
shake to  his  friends,  receiving  their  regard  gratefully,  glad 
of  their  attention.  His  heart  was  tormented  within  him, 
he  did  not  try  to  smile.  The  time  of  his  trial  and  his  ad- 
mittance, his  Gethsemane  and  his  Triumphal  Entry  in  one. 
had  come  now. 

Behind  her,  there  was  so  much  unknown  to  him.  When 
he  approached  her,  ho  came  to  such  a  terrible  painful  un- 
known. How  could  he  embrace  it  and  fathom  it?  How 
could  he  close  his  arms  round  all  this  darkness  and  hold  it 
to  his  breast  and  give  himself  to  it?  What  might  not  hap- 
pen to  him?  If  he  stretched  and  strained  for  ever  he  would 
never  be  able  to  grasp  it  all,  and  to  yield  himself  naked  out 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  51 

of  his  own  hands  into  the  unknown  power!  How  could  a 
man  be  strong  enough  to  take  her,  put  his  arms  round  her 
and  have  her,  and  be  sure  he  could  conquer  this  awful  un- 
known next  his  heart?  What  was  it  then  that  she  was,  to 
which  he  must  also  deliver  himself  up,  and  which  at  the 
same  time  he  must  embrace,  contain? 

He  was  to  be  her  husband.  It  was  established  so.  And 
he  wanted  it  more  than  he  wanted  life,  or  anything.  She 
stood  beside  him  in  her  silk  dress,  looking  at  him  strangely, 
so  that  a  certain  terror,  horror  took  possession  of  him,  be- 
cause she  was  strange  and  impending  and  he  had  no  choice. 
He  could  not  bear  to  meet  her  look  from  under  her  strange, 
thick  brows. 

"  Is  it  late  ?  "  she  said. 

He  looked  at  his  watch. 

"No  —  half-past  eleven,"  he  said.  And  he  made  an  ex- 
cuse to  go  into  the  kitchen,  leaving  her  standing  in  the  room 
among  the  disorder  and  the  drinking-glasses. 

Tilly  was  seated  beside  the  fire  in  the  kitchen,  her  head 
in  her  hands.  She  started  up  when  he  entered. 

"  Why  haven't  you  gone  to  bed  ?  "  he  said. 

"I  thought  I'd.  better  stop  an'  lock  up  an'  do,"  she  said. 
Her  agitation  quietened  him.  He  gave  her  some  little  order, 
then  returned,  steadied  now,  almost  ashamed,  to  his  wife. 
She  stood  a  moment  watching  him,  as  he  moved  with  averted 
face.  Then  she  said : 

"  You  will  be  good  to  me,  won't  you  ?  " 

She  was  small  and  girlish  and  terrible,  with  a  queer,  wide 
look  in  her  eyes.  His  heart  leaped  in  him,  in  anguish  of  love 
and  desire,  he  went  blindly  to  her  and  took  her  in  his  arms. 

"  I  want  to,"  he  said  as  he  drew  her  closer  and  closer 
in.  She  was  soothed  by  the  stress  of  his  embrace,  and  re- 
mained quite  still,  relaxed  against  him,  mingling  in  to  him. 
And  he  let  himself  go  from  past  and  future,  was  reduced  to 
the  moment  with  her.  In  which  he  took  her  and  was  with 
her  and  there  was  nothing  beyond,  they  were  together  in  an 
elemental  embrace  beyond  their  superficial  foreignness.  But 
in  the  morning  he  was  uneasy  again.  She  was  still  foreign 
and  unknown  to  him.  Only,  within  the  fear  was  pride,  belief 
in  himself  as  mate  for  her.  And  she,  everything  forgotten 
in  her  new  hour  of  coming  to  life,  radiated  vigour  and  joy, 
so  that  he  quivered  to  touch  her. 

It  made  a  great  difference  to  him,  marriage.     Things  be- 


52  THE  RAINBOW 

came  so  remote  and  of  so  little  significance,  as  he  knew  the 
powerful  source  of  his  life,  his  eyes  opened  on  a  new  universe, 
and  he  wondered  in  thinking  of  his  triviality  before.  A  new, 
calm  relationship  showed  to  him  in  the  things  he  saw,  in  the 
cattle  he  used,  the  young  wheat  as  it  eddied  in  a  wind. 

And  each  time  he  returned  home,  he  went  steadily,  expect- 
antly, like  a  man  who  goes  to  a  profound,  unknown  satis- 
faction. At  dinner-time,  he  appeared  in  the  doorway,  hang- 
ing back  a  moment  from  entering,  to  see  if  she  was  there. 
He  saw  her  setting  the  plates  on  the  white-scrubbed  table. 
Her  arms  were  slim,  she  had  a  slim  body  and  full  skirts,  she 
had  a  dark,  shapely  head  with  closed-banded  hair.  Somehow 
it  was  her  head,  so  shapely  and  poignant,  that  revealed  her 
his  woman  to  him.  As  she  Amoved  about  clothed  closely, 
full-skirted  and  wearing  her  little  silk  apron,  her  dark  hail- 
smoothly  parted,  her  head  revealed  itself  to  him  in  all  its 
subtle,  intrinsic  beauty,  and  he  knew  she  was  his  woman, 
he  knew  her  essence,  that  it  was  his  to  possess.  And  he 
seemed  to  live  thus  in  contact  with  her,  in  contact  with  the 
unknown,  the  unaccountable  and  incalculable. 

They  did  not  take  much  notice  of  each  other,  consciously. 

"Fm  betimes,"  he  said. 

"Yes,"  she  answered. 

He  turned  to  the  dogs,  or  to  the  child  if  she  were  there. 
The  little  Anna  played  about  the  farm,  flitting  constantly  in 
to  call  something  to  her  mother,  to  fling  her  arms  round  her 
mother's  skirts,  to  be  noticed,  perhaps  caressed,  then,  for- 
getting, to  slip  out  again. 

Tnen  Brangwen,  talking  to  the  child,  or  to  the  dog  between 
his  knees,  would  be  aware  of  his  wife,  as,  in  her  tight,  dark 
bodice  and  her  lace  fichu,  she  was  reaching  up  to  the  corner 
cupboard.  He  realized  with  a  sharp  pang  that  she  belonged 
to  him,  and  he  to  her.  He  realized  that  he  lived  by  her. 
Did  he  own  her  ?  Was  she  here  for  ever  ?  Or  might  she  go 
away?  She  was  not  really  his,  it  was  not  a  real  marriage, 
this  marriage  between  them.  She  might  go  away.  He 
did  not  feel  like  a  master,  husband,  father  of  her  children. 
She  belonged  elsewhere.  Any  moment,  she  might  be  gone. 
And  he  was  ever  drawn  to  her,  drawn  after  her,  with  ever- 
araging,  ever-unsatisfied  desire.  He  must  always  turn  home, 
wherever  his  steps  were  taking  him,  always  to  her,  and  he 
could  never  quite  reach  her,  he  could  never  quite  be  satisfied, 
never  be  at  peace,  because  she  might  go  away. 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  53 

At  evening,  he  was  glad.  Then,  when  he  had  finished  in 
the  yard,  and  come  in  and  washed  himself,  when  the  child 
was  put  to  bed,  he  could  sit  on  the  other  side  of  the  fire  with 
his  beer  on  the  hob  and  his  long  white  pipe  in  his  fingers, 
conscious  of  her  there  opposite  him,  as  she  worked  at  her 
embroidery,  or  as  she  talked  to  him,  and  he  was  safe  with 
her  now,  till  morning.  She  was  curiously  self-sufficient  and 
did  not  say  very  much.  Occasionally  she  lifted  her  head, 
her  grey  eyes  shining  with  a  strange  light,  that  had  nothing 
to  do  with  him  or  with  this  place,  and  would  tell  him  aboui 
herself.  She  seemed  to  be  back  again  in  the  past,  chiefly  in 
her  childhood  or  her  girlhood,  with  her  father.  She  very 
rarely  talked  of  her  first  husband.  But  sometimes,  all  shin- 
ing-eyed, she  was  back  at  her  own  home,  telling  him  about 
the  riotoup  times,  the  trip  to  Paris  with  her  father,  tales  of 
the  mad  acts  of  the  peasants  when  a  burst  of  religious,  self- 
hurting  fervour  had  passed  over  the  country. 

She  would  lift  her  head  and  say.: 

"  When  they  brought  the  railway  across  the  country,  they 
made  afterwards  smaller  railways,  of  shorter  width,  to  come 
down  to  our  town  —  a  hundred  miles.  When  I  was  a  girl, 
Gisla,  my  German  gouvernante,  was  very  shocked  and  she 
would  not  tell  me.  But  I  heard  the  servants  talking.  I  re- 
member, it  was  Pierre,  the  coachman.  And  my  father,  and 
some  of  his  friends,  landowners,  they  had  taken  a  wagon, 
a  whole  railway  wagon  —  that  you  travel  in " 

"  A  railway-carriage,"  said  Brangwen. 

She  laughed  to  herself. 

"I  know  it  was  a  great  scandal:  yes  —  a  whole  wagon, 
and  they  had  girls,  you  know,  lilies,  naked,  all  the  wagon-full, 
and  so  they  came  down  to  our  village.  They  came  through 
villages  of  the  Jews,  and  it  was  a  great  scandal.  Can  you 
imagine?  All  the  countryside!  And  my  mother,  she  did 
not  like  it.  Gisla  said  to  me,  '  Madame,  she  must  not  know 
that  you  have  heard  such  things/ 

"  My  mother,  she  used  to  cry,  and  she  wished  to  beat  my 
father^  plainly  beat  him.  He  would  say,  when  she  cried 
because  he  sold  the  forest,  the  wood,  to  jingle  money  in  his 
pocket,  and  go  to  Warsaw  or  Paris  or  Kiev,  when  she  said 
he  must  take  back  his  word,  he  must  not  sell  the  forest,  he 
would  stand  and  say,  'I  know,  I  know,  I  have  heard  it  all, 
I  have  heard  it  all  before.  Tell  me  some  new  thing, 
know,  I  know,  I  know/  Oh,  but  can  you  understand,  I 


54  THE  RAINBOW 

loved  him  when  he  stood  there  under  the  door,  saying  only, 
'  I  know,  I  know,  I  know  it  all  already/  She  could 
not  change  him,  no,  not  if  she  killed  herself  for  it.  And  she 
could  change  everybody  else,  but  him,  she  could  not  change 
him » 

Brangwen  could  not  understand.  He  had  pictures  of  a 
cattle-truck  full  of  naked  girls  riding  from  nowhere  to  no- 
where, of  Lydia  laughing  because  her  father  made  great 
debts  and  said,  "I  know,  I  know";  of  Jews  running  down 
the  street  shouting  in  Yiddish,  "  Don't  do  it,  don't  do  it,"  and 
being  cut  down  by  demented  peasants  —  she  called  them 
"  cattle  " —  whilst  she  looked  on  interested  and  even  amused ; 
of  tutors  and  governesses  and  Paris  and  a  convent.  It  was 
too  much  for  him.  And  there  she  sat,  telling  the  tales  to 
the  open  space,  not  to  him,  arrogating  a  curious  superiority 
to  him,  a  distance  between  them,  something  strange  and 
foreign  and  outside  his  life,  talking,  rattling,  without  rhyme 
or  reason,  laughing  when  he  was  shocked  or  astounded,  con- 
demning nothing,  confounding  'his  mind  and  making  the 
whole  world  a  chaos,  without  order  or  stability  of  any  kind. 
Then,  when  they  went  to  bed,  he  knew  that  lie  had  nothing 
to  do  with  her.  She  was  back  in  her  childhood,  he  was  a 
peasant,  a  serf,  a  servant,  a  lover,  a  paramour,  a  shadow,  a 
nothing.  He  lay  still  in  amazement,  staring  at  the  room 
he  knew  so  well,  and  wondering  whether  it  was  really  there, 
the  window,  the  chest  of  drawers,  or  whether  it  was  merely 
a  figment  in  the  atmosphere.  And  gradually  he  grew  into 
a  raging  fury  against  her.  But  because  he  was  so  much 
amazed,  and  there  was  as  yet  such  a  distance  between  them, 
and  she  was  such  an  amazing  thing  to  him,  with  all  wonder 
opening  out  behind  her,  he  made  no  retaliation  on  her. 
Only  he  lay  still  and  wide-eyed  with  rage,  inarticulate,  not 
understanding,  but  solid  with  hostility. 

And  he  remained  wrathful  and  distinct  from  her,  un- 
changed outwardly  to  her,  but  underneath  a  solid  power  of 
antagonism  to  her.  Of  which  she  became  gradually  aware. 
And  it  irritated  her  to  be  made  aware  of  him  as  a  separate 
power.  She  lapsed  into  a  sort  of  sombre  exclusion,  a  curious 
communion  with  mysterious  powers,  a  sort  of  mystic,  dark 
state  which  drove  him  and  the  child  nearly  mad.  He  walked 
about  for  days  stiffened  with  resistance  -to  her,  stiff  with  a 
will  to  destroy  her  as  she  was.  Then  suddenly,  out  of  no- 
where, there  was  connection  between  them  again.  It  came 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  55 

on  him  as  he  was  working  in  the  fields.  The  tension,  the 
bond,  burst,  and  the  passionate  flood  broke  forward  into  a 
tremendous,  magnificent  rush,  so  that  he  felt  he  could  snap 
off  the  trees  as  he  passed,  and  create  the  world  afresh. 

And '  when  he  arrived  home,  there  was  no  sign  between 
them.  He  waited  and  waited  till  she  came.  And  as  he 
waited,  his  limbs  seemed  strong  and  splendid  to  him,  his 
hands  seemed  like  passionate  servants  to  him,  goodly,  he  felt 
a  stupendous  power  in  himself,  of  life,  and  of  urgent,  strong 
blood. 

She  was  sure  to  come  at  last,  andstouch  him.  Then  he 
burst  into  flame  for  her,  and  lost  himself.  They  looked  at 
each  other,  a  deep  laugh  at  the  bottom  of  their  eyes,  and  he 
went  to  take  of  her  again,  wholesale,  mad  to  revel  in  the 
inexhaustible  wealth  of  her,  to  bury  himself  in  the  depths 
of  her  in  an  inexhaustible  exploration,  she  all  the  while 
revelling  in  that  he  revelled  in  her,  tossed  all  her  secrets 
aside  and  plunged  to  that  which  was  secret  to  her  as  well, 
whilst  she  quivered  with  fear  and  the  last  anguish  of  delight. 

What  did  it  matter  who  they  were,  whether  they  knew 
each  other  or  not? 

The  hour  passed  away  again,  there  was  severance  between 
them,  and  rage  and  misery  and  bereavement  for  her,  and 
deposition  and  toiling  at  the  mill  with  slaves  for  him.  But 
no  matter.  They  had  had  their  hour,  and  should  it  chime 
again,  they  were  ready  for  it,  ready  to  renew  the  game  at  the 
point  where  it  was  left  off,  on  the  edge  of  the  outer  darkness, 
when  the  secrets  within  the  woman  are  game  for  the  man, 
hunted  doggedly,  when  the  secrets  of  the  woman  are  the 
man's  adventure,  and  they  both  give  themselves  to  the  ad- 
venture. 

She  was  with  child,  and  there  was  again  the  silence  and 
distance  between  them.  She  did  not  want  him  nor  his 
secrets  nor  his  game,  he  was  deposed,  he  was  cast  out.  He 
seethed  with  fury  at  the  small,  ugly-mouthed  woman  who 
had  nothing  to  do  with  him.  Sometimes  his  anger  broke 
on  her,  but  she  did  not  cry.  She  turned  on  him  like  a  tiger, 
and  there  was  battle. 

He  had  to  learn  to  contain  himself  again,  and  he  hated  it. 
He  hated  her  that  she  was  not  there  for  him.  And  he  took 
himself  off,  anywhere. 

But  an  instinct  of  gratitude  and  a  knowledge  that  she 
would  receive  him  back  again,  that  later  on  she  would  be 


56  THE  RAINBOW 

there  for  him  again,  prevented  his  straying  very  far.  He. 
cautiously  did  not  go  too  far.  He  knew  she  might  lapse 
into  ignorance  of  him,  lapse  away  from  him,  farther,  farther, 
farther,  till  she  was  lost  to  him.  He  had  sense  enough,  pre- 
monition enough  in  himself,  to  be  aware  of  this  and  to  meas- 
ure himself  accordingly.  For  he  did  not  want  to  lose  her: 
he  did  not  want  her  to  lapse  away. 

Cold,  he  called  her,  selfish,  only  caring  about  herself,  a 
foreigner  with  a  bad  nature,  caring  really  about  nothing, 
having  no  proper  feelings  at  the  bottom  of  her,  and  no  proper 
niceness.  He  raged,  and  piled  up  accusations  that  had  some 
measure  of  truth  in  them  all.  But  a  certain  grace  in  him 
forbade  him  from  going  too  far.  He  knew,  and  he  quiverec 
with  rage  and  hatred,  that  she  was  all  these  vile  things, 
that  she  was  everything  vile  and  detestable.  But  he  had  grace 
at  the  bottom  of  him,  which  told  him  that,  above  all  things, 
he  did  not  want  to  lose  her,  he  was  not  going  to  lose  her. 

So  he  kept  some  consideration  for  her,  he  preserved  some 
relationship.  He  went  out  more  often,  to  the  Eed  Lion 
again,  to  escape  the  madness  of  sitting  next  to  her  when  she 
did  not  belong  to  him,  when  she  was  as  absent  as  any  woman 
in  indifference  could  be.  He  could  not  stay  at  home.  So 
he  went  to  the  Eed  Lion.  And  sometimes  he  got  drunk. 
But  he  preserved  his  measure,  some  things  between  them 
he  never  forfeited. 

A  tormented  look  came  into  his  eyes,  as  if  something  were 
always  dogging  him.  He  glanced  sharp  and  quick,  he  could 
not  bear  to  sit  still  doing  nothing.  He  had  to  go  out,  to  find 
company,  to  give  himself  away  there.  For  he  had  no  other 
outlet,  he  could  not  work  to  g^ve  himself  out,  he  had  not  the 
knowledge. 

As  the  months  of  her  pregnancy  went  on,  she  left  him  more 
and  more  alone,  she  was  more  and  more  unaware  of  him,  his 
existence  was  annulled.  And  he  felt  bound  down,  bound, 
unable  to  stir,  beginning  to  go  mad,  ready  to  rave.  For  she 
was  quiet  and  polite,  as  if  he  did  not  exist,  as  one  is  quiet 
and  polite  to  a  servant. 

Nevertheless  she  was  great  with  his  child,  it  was  his  turn 
to  submit.  She  sat  opposite  him,  sewing,  her  foreign  face 
inscrutable  and  indifferent.  He  felt  he  wanted  to  break  her 
into  acknowledgment  of  him,  into  awareness  of  him.  It 
was  insufferable  that  she  had  so  obliterated  him.  He  would 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  57 

smash  her  into  regarding  him.  He  had  a  raging  agony  of 
iesire  to  do  so. 

But  something  bigger  in  him  withheld  him,  kept  him  mo- 
tionless. So  he  went  out  of  the  house  for  relief.  Or  he 
turned  to  the  little  girl  for  her  sympathy  and  her  love,  he 
appealed  with  all  his  power  to  the  small  Anna.  So  soon 
they  were  like  lovers,  father  and  child. 

For  he  was  afraid  of  his  wife.  As  she  sat  there  with  bent 
head, '  silent,  working  or  reading,  but  so  unutterably  silent 
that  his  heart  seemed  under  the  millstone  of  it,  she  became 
herself  like  the  upper  millstone  lying  on  him,  crushing  him, 
as  sometimes  a  heavy  sky  lies  on  the  earth. 

Yet  he  knew  he  could  not  tear  her  away  from  the  heavy 
obscurity  into  which  she  was  merged.  He  must  not  try  to 
tear  her  into  recognition  of  himself,  and  agreement  with  him- 
self. It  were  disastrous,  impious.  So,  let  him  rage  as  he 
might,  he  must  withhold  himself.  But  his  wrists  trembled 
and  seemed  mad,  seemed  as  if  they  would  burst. 

When,  in  November,  the  leaves  came  beating  against  the 
window  shutters,  with  a  lashing  sound,  he  started,  and  his 
eyes  flickered  with  flame.  The  dog  looked  up  at  him,  he 
sunk  his  head  to  the  fire.  But  his  wife  was  startled.  He 
was  aware  of  her  listening. 

"  They  blow  up  with  a  rattle,"  he  said. 

"What?"  she  asked. 

<<The  leaves." 

She  sank  away  again.  The  strange  leaves  beating  in  the 
wind  on  the  wood  had  come  nearer  than  she.  The  tension 
in  the  room  was  overpowering,  it  was  difficult  for  him  to 
move  his  head.  He  sat  with  every  nerve,  every  vein,  every 
fibre  of  muscle  in  his  body  stretched  on  a  tension.  He  felt 
like  a  broken  arch  thrust  sickeningly  out  from  support. 
For  her  response  was  gone,  he  thrust  at  nothing.  And  he 
remained  himself,  he  saved  himself  from  crashing  down  into 
nothingness,  from  being  squandered  into  fragments,  by  sheer 
tension,  sheer  backward  resistance. 

During  the  last  months  of  her  pregnancy,  he  went  about 
in  a  surcharged,  imminent  state  that  did  not  exhaust  itself. 
She  was  also  depressed,  and  sometimes  she  cried.  It  needed 
so  much  life  to  begin  afresh,  after  she  had  lost  so  lavishly. 
Sometimes  she  cried.  Then  he  stood  stiff,  feeling  his  heart 
would  burst.  For  she  did  not  want  him,  she  did  not  want 


58  THE  RAINBOW 

even  to  be  made  aware  of  him.  By  the  very  puckering  of 
her  face  he  knew  that  he  must  stand  back,  leave  her  intact, 
alone.  For  it  was  the  old  grief  come  back  in  her,  the  old 
loss,  the  pain  of  the  old  life,  the  dead  husband,  the  dead 
children.  This  was  sacred  to  her,  and  he  must  not  violate 
her  with  his  comfort.  For  what  she  wanted  she  would  come 
to  him.  He  stood  aloof  with  turgid  heart. 

He  had  to  see  her  tears  come,  fall  over  her  scarcely  moving 
face,  that  only  puckered  sometimes,  down  on  to  her  breast, 
that  was  so  still,  scarcely  moving.  And  there  was  no  noise, 
save  now  and  again,  when,  with  a  strange,  somnambulant 
movement,  she  took  her  handkerchief  and  wiped  her  face 
and  blew  her  nose,  and  went  on  with  the  noiseless  weeping. 
He  knew  that  any  offer  of  comfort  from  himself  would  be 
worse  than  useless,  hateful  to  her,  jangling  her.  She  must 
cry.  But  it  drove  him  insane.  His  heart  was  scalded, 
his  brain  hurt  in  his  head,  he  went  away,  out  of  the 
house. 

His  great  and  chiefest  source  of  solace  was  the  child. 
She  had  been  at  first  aloof  from  him,  reserved.  However 
friendly  she  might  seem  one  day,  the  next  she  would  have 
lapsed  to  her  original  disregard  of  him,  cold,  detached, 
at  her  distance. 

The  first  morning  after  his  marriage  he  had  discovered  it 
would  not  be  so  easy  with  the  child.  At  the  break  of  dawn 
he  had  started  awake  hearing  a  small  voice  outside  the  door 
saying  plaintively: 

"  Mother ! " 

He  rose  and  opened  the  door.  She  stood  on  the  threshold 
in"  her  night-dress,  as  she  had  climbed  out  of  bed,  black  eyes 
staring  round  and  hostile,  her  fair  hair  sticking  out  in  a  wild 
fleece.  The  man  and  child  confronted  each  other. 

"  I  want  my  mother,"  she  said,  jealously  accenting  the 
"my." 

"  Come  on  then,"  he  said  gently. 

"Where's   my   mother?" 

"  She's  here  —  come  on." 

The  child's  eyes,  staring  at  the  man  with  ruffled  hair  and 
beard,  did  not  change.  The  mother's  voice  Called  softly. 
The  little  bare  feet  entered  the  room  with  trepidation. 

"  Mother ! " 

"  Come,  my  dear." 

The  small  bare  feet  approached  swiftly. 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  59 

"I  wondered  where  you  were."  came  the  plaintive  voice. 
The  mother  stretched  out  her  arms.     The  child  stood  beside 
the  high  bed.     Brangwen  lightly  lifted  the  tiny  girl,  with  an 
"  up-a-daisy,"  then  took  his  own  place  in  the  bed  again. 
•  "  Mother !  "  cried  the  child  sharply,  as  in  anguish. 

"What, -my  pet?" 

Anna  wriggled  close  into  her  mother's  arms,  clinging 
tight,  hiding  from  the  fact  of  the  man.  Brangwen  lay 
still,  and  waited.  There  was  a  long  silence. 

Then  suddenly,  Anna  looked  round,  •  as  if  she  thought  he 
would  be  gone.  She  saw  the  face  of  the  man  lying  upturned 
to  the  ceiling.  Her  black  eyes  stared  antagonistic  from  her 
exquisite  face,  her  arms  clung  tightly  to  her  mother,  afraid. 
He  did  not  move  for  some  time,  not  knowing  what  to  say. 
His  face  was  smooth  and  soft-skinned  with  love,  his  eyes  full 
of  soft  light.  He  looked  at  her,  scarcely  moving  his  head, 
his  eyes  smiling. 

"Have  you   just  wakened  up?"  he  said. 

"  Go  away,"  she  retorted,  with  a  little  darting  forward  of 
the  head,  something  like  a  viper. 

"  Nay,"  he  answered,  "  I'm  not  going.     You  can  go." 

"  Go  away,"  came  the  sharp  little  command. 

"  There's  room  for  you,"  he  said. 

"  You  can't  send  your  father  from  his  own  bed,  my  little 
bird,"  said  her  mother,  pleasantly. 

The  child  glowered  at  him,  miserable  in  her  impotence. 

"  Theie's  room  for  you  as  well,"  he  said.  "  It's  a  big  bed 
enough." 

She  glowered  without  answering,  then  turned  and  clung  to 
her  mother.  She  would  not  allow  it. 

During  the  day  she  asked  her  mother  several  "times : 

"  When  are  we  going  home,  mother  ?  " 

"  We  are  at  home,  darling,  we  live  here  now.  This  is  our 
house,  we  live  here  with  your  father." 

The  child  was  forced  to  accept  it.  But  she  remained 
against  the  man.  As  night  came  on,  she  asked : 

"Where  are  you  going  to  sleep,  mother?" 

"I  sleep  with  the  father  now." 

And  when  Brangwen  came  in,  the  child  asked  fiercely: 

"  Why  do  you  sleep  with  my  mother  ?  My  mother  sleeps 
with  me,"  her  voice  quivering. 

"  You  come  as  well,  an'  sleep  with  both  of  us,"  he  coaxed. 

"  Mother ! "  she  cried,  turning,  appealing  against  him. 


60  THE  RAINBOW 

"But  I  must  have  a  husband,  darling.  All  women  must 
have  a  husband." 

"  And  you  like  to  have  a  father  with  your  mother,  don't 
you  ?  "  said  Brangwen. 

Anna  glowered  at  him.     She  seemed  to  cogitate. 

"  No/'  she  cried  fiercely  at  length,  "  no,  I  don't  want." 
And  slowly  her  face  puckered,  she  sobbed  bitterly.  He  stood 
and  watched  her,  sorry.  But  there  could  be  no  altering  it. 

Which,  when  she  knew,  she  became  quiet.  He  was  easy 
with  her,  talking  to  her,  taking  her  to  see  the  live  creatures, 
bringing  her  the  first  chickens  in  his  cap,  taking  her  to 
gather  the  eggs,  letting  her  throw  crusts  to  the  horse.  She 
would  easily  accompany  him,  and  take  all  he  had  to  give, 
but  she  remained  neutral  still. 

She  was  curiously,  incomprehensibly  jealous  of  her  mother, 
always  anxiously  concerned  about  her.  If  Brangwen  drove 
with  his  wife  to  Nottingham,  Anna  ran  about  happily 
enough,  or  unconcerned,  for  a  long  time.  Then,  as  afternoon 
came  on,  there  was  only  one  cry — "I  want  my  mother,  I 

want  my  mother "  and  a  bitter,  pathetic  sobbing  that 

soon  had  the  soft-hearted  Tilly  sobbing  too.  The  child's 
anguish  was  that  her  mother  was  gone,  gone. 

Yet  as  a  rule,  Anna  seemed  cold,  resenting  her  mother, 
critical  of  her.  It  was: 

"I  don't  like  you  to  do  that,  mother,"  or,  "I  don't  like 
you  to  say  that."  She  was  a  sore  problem  to  Brangwen  and 
to  all  the  people  at  the  Marsh.  As  a  rule,  however,  she  was 
active,  lightly  flitting  about  the  farmyard,  only  appearing 
now  and  again  to  assure  herself  of  her  mother.  Happy 
she  never  seemed,  but  quick,  sharp,  absorbed,  full  of  imagina- 
tion and  changeability.  Tilly  said  she  was  bewitched.  But 
it  did  not  matter  so  long  as  she  did  not  cry.  There  was  some- 
thing heartrending  about  Anna's  crying,  her  childish  anguish 
seemed  so  utter  and  so  timeless,  as  if  it  were  a  thing  of  all 
the  ages. 

She  made  playmates  of  the  creatures  of  the  farmyard, 
talking  to  them,  telling  them  the  stories  she  had  from  her 
mother,  counselling  them  and  correcting  them.  Brangwen 
found  her  at  the  gate  leading  to  the  paddock  and  to  the 
duckpond.  She  was  peering  through  the  bars  and  shouting 
to  the  stately  white  geese,  that  stood  in  a  curving  line : 

"You're  not  to  call  at  people  when  they  want  to  come. 
"You  must  not  do  it," 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  61 

The  heavy,  balanced  birds  looked  at  the  fierce  little  face 
and  the  fleece  of  keen  hair  thrust  between  the  bars,  and 
they  raised  their  heads  and  swayed  off,  producing  the  long, 
can-canking,  protesting  noise  of  geese,  rocking  their  ship- 
like,  beautiful  white  bodies  in  a  line  beyond  the  gate. 

"  You're  naughty,  you're  naughty,"  cried  Anna,  tears  of 
dismay  and  vexation  in  her  eyes.  And  she  stamped  her 
slipper. 

"  Why,  what  are  they  doing  ?  "  said  Brangwen. 

"  They  won't  let  me  come  in,"  she  said,  turning  her  flushed 
little  face  to  him. 

"Yi,  they  will.  You  can  go  in  if  you  want  to,"  and  he 
pushed  open  the  gate  for  her. 

She  stood  irresolute,  looking  at  the  group  of  bluey- 
white  geese  standing  monumental  under  the  grey,  cold 
day. 

"  Go  on,"  he  said. 

She  marched  valiantly  a  few  steps  in.  Her  little  body 
started  convulsively  at  the  sudden,  derisive  can-cank-ank  of 
the  geese.  A  blankness  spread  over  her.  The  geese  trailed 
away  with  uplifted  heads  under  the  low  grey  sky. 

"  They  don't  know  you,"  said  Brangwen.  "  You  should 
tell  'em  what  your  name  is." 

"  They're  naughty  to  shout  at  me,"  she  flashed. 

"  They  think  you  don't  live  here,"  he  said. 

Later  he  found  her  at  the  gate  calling  shrilly  and  imperi- 
ously : 

"  My  name  is  Anna,  Anna  Lensky,  and  I  live  here,  because 
Mr.  Brangwen's  my  father  now.  He  is,  yes  he  is.  And  I 
live  here." 

This  pleased  Brangwen  very  much.  And  gradually,  with- 
out knowing  it  herself,  she  clung  to  him,  in  her  lost,  childish, 
desolate  moments,  when  it  was  good  to  creep  up  to  something 
big  and  warm,  and  bury  her  little  self  in  his  big,  unlimited, 
being.  Instinctively  he  was  careful  of  her,  careful  to  recog- 
nize her  and  to  give  himself  to  her  disposal. 

'She  was  difficult  of  her  affections.  For  Tilly,  she  had  a 
childish,  essential  contempt,  almost  dislike,  because  the  poor 
woman  was  such  a  servant.  The  child  would  not  let  the 
serving-wToman  attend  to  her,  do  intimate  things  for  her,  not 
for  a  long  time.  She  treated  her  as  one  of  an  inferior  race. 
Brangwen  did  not  like  it. 

"Why  aren't  you  fond  of  Tilly?"  he  asked. 


62  THE  RAINBOW 

"Because  —  because  —  because  she  looks  at  me  with  her 
eyes  bent." 

Then  gradually  she  accepted  Tilly  as  belonging  to  the 
household,  never  as  a  person. 

For  the  first  weeks,  the  black  eyes  of  the  child  were  forever 
on  the  watch.  Brangwen,  good-humoured  but  impatient, 
spoiled  by  Tilly,  was  an  easy  blusterer.  If  for  a  few  minutes 
he  upset  the  household  with  his  noisy  impatience,  he  found 
at  the  end  the  child  glowering  at  him  with  intense  black 
eyes,  and  she  was  sure  to  dart  forward  her  little  head,  like  a 
serpent,  with  her  biting: 

"  Go  away/' 

"  I'm  not  going  away/'  he  shouted,  irritated  at  last.  "  Go 
yourself  —  hustle  —  stir  thysen  —  hop."  And  he  pointed  to 
the  door.  The  child  backed  away  from  him,  pale  with  fear. 
Then  she  gathered  up  courage,  seeing  him  become  patient. 

" We  don't  live  with  you'''  she  said,  thrusting  forward  her 
little  head  at  him.  "  You  —  you're  —  you're  a  bomakle." 

"A  what?  "he  shouted. 

Her  voice  wavered  —  but  it  came. 

"  A  bomakle." 

"  Ay,  an'  you're  a  comakle." 

She  meditated.     Then  she  hissed  forwards  her  head. 

"I'm  not." 

"Not  what?" 

«  A  comakle." 

"  No  more  am  I  a  bomakle." 

He  was  really  cross. 

Other  times  she  would  say: 

"  My  mother  doesn't  live  here." 

"Oh,  ay?" 

"  I  want  her  to  go  away." 

"  Then  want's  your  portion,"  he  replied  laconically. 

So  they  drew  nearer  together.  He  would  take  her  with 
him  when  he  went  out  in  the  trap.  The  horse  ready  at  the 
gate,  he  came  noisily  into  the  house,  which  seemed  quiet 
and  peaceful  till  he  appeared  to  set  everything  awake. 

"  Now  then,  Topsy,  pop  into  thy  bonnet." 

The  child  drew  herself  up,  resenting  the  indignity  of  the 
address. 

"  I  can't  fasten  my  bonnet  myself,"  she  said  haughtily. 

"Not  man  enough  yet,"  he  said,  tying  the  ribbons  under 
her.  chin  with  clumsy  fingers. 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  63 

She  held  up  her  face  to  him.  Her  little  bright-red  lips 
moved  as  he  fumbled  under  her  chin. 

"You  talk  —  nonsents,"  she  said,  re-echoing  one  of  his 
phrases. 

"  That  face  shouts  for  th'  pump/'  he  said,  and  taking  out 
a  big  red  handkerchief,  that  smelled  of  strong  tobacco,  began 
wiping  round  her  mouth. 

"  Is  Kitty  waiting  for  me  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  Ay,"  he  said.  "  Let's  finish  wiping  your  face  —  it'll  pass 
wi'  a  cat-lick." 

She  submitted  prettily.  Then,  when  he  let  her  go,  she 
began  to  skip,  with  a  curious  flicking  up  of  one  leg  behind 
her. 

"  Now  my  young  buck-rabbit/'  he  said.     "  Slippy !  " 

She  came  and  was  shaken  into  her  coat,  and  the  two  set 
off.  She  sat  very  close  beside  him  in  the  gig,  tucked  tightly, 
feeling  his  big  body  sway  against  her,  very  splendid.  She 
loved  the  rocking  of  the  gig,  when  his  big,  live  body  swayed 
upon  her,  against  her.  She  laughed,  a  poignant  little  shrill 
laugh,  and  her  black  eyes  glowed. 

She  was  curiously  hard,  and  then  passionately  tender- 
hearted. Her  mother  was  ill,  the  child  stole  about  on  tip-toe 
in  the  bedroom  for  hours,  being  nurse,  and  doing  the  thing 
thoughtfully  and  diligently.  Another  day,  her  mother  was 
unhappy.  Anna,  would  stand  with  legs  apart,  glowering,  bal- 
ancing on  the  sides  of  her  slippers.  She  laughed  when  the 
goslings  wriggled  in  Tilly's  hand,  as  the  pellets  of  food  were 
rammed  clown  their  throats  with  a  skewer,  she  laughed  nerv- 
ously. She  was  hard  and  imperious  with  the  animals,  squand- 
ering no  love,  running  about  amongst  them  like  a  cruel  mis- 
tress. 

Summer  came,  and  hay-harvest,  Anna  was  a  brown  elfish 
mite  dancing  about.  Tilly  always  marvelled  over  her,  more 
than  she  loved  her. 

But  always  in  the  child  was  some  anxious  connection  with 
the  mother.  So  long  as  Mrs.  Brangwen  was  all  right,  the 
little  girl  played  about  and  took  very  little  notice  of  her. 
But  corn-harvest  went  by,  the  autumn  drew  on,  and  the 
mother,  the  later  months  of  her  pregnancy  beginning,  was 
strange  and  detached,  Brangwen  began  to  knit  his  brows, 
the  old,  unhealthy  uneasiness,  the  unskinned  susceptibility 
came  on  the  child  again.  If  she  went  to  the  fields  with  her 
father,  then,  instead  of  playing  about  carelessly,  it  was: 


64  THE  RAINBOW 

f<  I  want  to  go  home." 

"  Home,  why  tha's  nobbut  this  minute  come." 

"  I  want  to  go  home." 

"What  for?     What  ails  thee ?" 

"I  want  my  mother." 

",Thy  mother!     Thy  mother  none  wants  thee." 

"  I  want  to  go  home." 

There  would  be  tears  in  a  moment. 

"  Can  ter  find  t'road,  then  ?  " 

And  he  watched  her  scudding,  silent  and  intent,  along  the 
hedge-bottom,  at  a  steady,  anxious  pace,  till  she  turned  and 
was  gone  through  the  gate-way.  Then  he  saw  her  two  fields 
off,  still  pressing  forward,  small  and  urgent.  His  face  was 
clouded  as  he  turned  to  plough  up  the  stubble. 

The  year  drew  on,  in  the  hedges  the  berries  shone  red  and 
twinkling  above  bare  twigs,  robins  were  seen,  great  droves 
of  birds  dashed  like  spray  from  the  fallow,  rooks  appeared, 
black  and  flapping  down  to  earth,  the  ground  was  cold  as  he 
pulled'  the  turnips,  the  roads  were  churned  deep  in  mud. 
Then  the  turnips  were  pitted  and  work  was  slack. 

Inside  the  house  it  was  dark,  and  quiet.  The  child  flitted 
uneasily  round,  and  now  and  again  came  her  plaintive, 
startled  cry: 

"  Mother  !  "  , 

Mrs.  Brangwen  was  heavy  and  unresponsive,  tired,  lapsed 
back.  Brangwen  went  on  working  out  of  doors. 

At  evening,  when  he  came  in  to  milk,  the  child  would  run 
behind  him.  Then,  in  the  cosy  cow-sheds,  with  the  doors 
shut  and  the  air  looking  warm  by  the  light  of  the  hanging 
lantern,  above  the  branching  horns  of  the  cows,  she  would 
stand  watching  his  hands  squeezing  rhythmically  the  teats 
of  the  placid  beast,  watch  the  froth  and  the  leaping  squirt  of 
milk,  watch  his  hand  sometimes  rubbing  slowly,  understand- 
ingly,  upon  a  hanging  udder.  So  they  kept  each  other  com- 
pany, but  at  a  distance,  rarely  speaking. 

The  darkest  days  of  the  year  came  on,  the  child  was  fret- 
ful, sighing  as  if  some  oppression  were  on  her,  running  hither 
and  thither  without  relief.  And  Brangwen  went  about  at 
his  work,  heavy,  his  heart  heavy  as  the  sodden  earth. 

The  winter  nights  fell  early,  the  lamp  was  lighted  before 
tea-time,  the  shutters  were  closed,  they  were  all  shut  into 
the  room  with  the  tension  and  stress.  Mrs.  Brangwen  went 
early  to  bed,  Anna  playing  on  the  floor  beside  her.  Brang- 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  65 

wen  sat  in  the  emptiness  of  the  downstairs  room,  smoking, 
scarcely  conscious  even  of  his  own  misery.  And  very  often  he 
went  out  to  escape  it. 

Christmas  passed,  the  wet,  drenched,  cold  days  of  January 
recurred  monotonously,  with  now  and  then  a  brilliance  of 
blue  flashing  in,  when  Brangwen  went  out  into  a  morning 
like  crystal,  when  every  sound  rang  again,  and  the  birds 
were  many  and  sud'den  and  brusque  in  the  hedges.  Then 
an  elation  came  over  him  in  spite  of  everything,  whether  his 
wife  were  strange  or  sad,  or  whether  he  craved  for  her  to  be 
with  him,  it  did  not  matter,  the  air  rang  with  clear  noises, 
the  sky  was  like  crystal,  like  a  bell,  and  the  earth  was  hard. 
Then  he  worked  and  was  happy,  his  eyes  shining,  his  cheeks 
flushed.  And  the  zest  of  life  was  strong  in  him. 

The  birds  pecked  busily  round  him,  the  horses  were  fresh 
and  ready,  the  bare  branches  of  the  trees  flung  themselves 
up  like  a  man  yawning,  taut  with  energy,  the  twigs  radiated 
off  into  the  clear  light.  He  v/as  alive  and  full  of  zest  for  it 
all.  And  if  his  wife  were  heavy,  separated  from  him,  extin- 
guished, then,  let  her  be,  let  him  remain  himself.  Things 
would  be  as  they  would  be.  Meanwhile  he  heard  the  ringing 
crow  of  a  cockerel  in  the  distance,  he  saw  the  pale  shell  of 
the  moon  effaced  on  a  blue  sky. 

So  he  shouted  to  the  horses,  and  was  happy.  If,  driving 
into  Ilkeston,  a  fresh  young  woman  were  going  in  to  do  her 
shopping,  he  hailed  her,  and  reined  in  his  horse,  and  picked 
her  up.  Then  he  was  glad  to  have  her  near  him,  his  eyes 
shone,  his  voice,  laughing,  teasing  in  a  warm  fashion,  made 
the  poise  of  her  head  more  beautiful,  her  blood  ran  quicker. 
They  were  both  stimulated,  the  morning  was  fine. 

What  did  it  matter  that,  at  the  bottom  of  his  heart,  was  care 
and  pain  ?  It  was  at  the  bottom,  let  it  stop  at  the  bottom. 
His  wife,  her  suffering,  her  coming  pain  —  well,  it  must  be 
so.  She  suffered,  but  he  was  out  of  doors,  full  in  life,  and  it 
would  be  ridiculous,  indecent,  to  pull  a  long  face  and  to  insist 
on  being  miserable.  He  was  happy,  this  morning,  driving  to 
town,  with  the  hoofs  of  the  horse  spanking  the  hard  earth. 
Well  he  was  happy,  if  half  the  world  were  weeping  at  the 
funeral  of  the  other  half.  And  it  was  a  jolly  girl  sitting  be- 
side him.  And  Woman  was  immortal,  whatever  happened, 
whoever  turned  towards  death.  Let  the  misery  come  when  it 
could  not  be  resisted. 

The  evening  arrived  later  very  beautiful,  with  a  rosy  flush 


66  THE  RAINBOW 

hovering  above  the  sunset,  and  passing  away  ?nto  violet  and 
lavender,  with  turquoise  green  north  and  south  in  the  sky, 
and  in  the  east,  a  great,  yellow  moon  hanging  heavy  and 
radiant.  It  was  magnificent  to  walk  between  the  sunset  and 
the  moon,  on  a  road  where  little  holly  trees  thrust  black  into 
the  rose  and  lavender,  and  starlings  flickered  in  droves  across 
the  light.  But  what  was  the  end  of  the  journey?  The 
pain  came  right  enough,  later  on,  when  his  heart  and  his 
feet  were  heavy,  his  brain  dead,  his  life  stopped. 

One  afternoon,  the  pains  began,  Mrs.  Brangwen  was  put  to 
bed.  the  midwife  came.  Night  fell,  the  shutters  were  closed, 
Brangwen  came  in  to  tea,  to  the  loaf  and  the  pewter  teapot, 
the  child,  silent  and  quivering,  playing  with  glass  beads, 
the  house,  empty,  it  seemed,  or  exposed  to  the  winter  night, 
as  if  it  had  no  walls. 

Sometimes  there  sounded,  long  and  remote  in  the  house, 
vibrating  through  everything,  the  moaning  cry  of  a  woman 
in  labour.  Brangwen,  sitting  downstairs,  was  divided.  His 
lower,  deeper  self  was  with  her,  bound  to  her,  suffering.  But 
the  big  shell  of  his  body  remembered  the  sound  of  owls  that 
used  to  fly  round  the  farmstead  when  he  was  a  boy.  He 
was  back  in  his  youth,  a  boy,  haunted  by  the  sound  of  the 
owls,  waking  up  his  brother  to  speak  to  him.  And  his  mind 
drifted  away  to  the  birds,  their  solemn,  dignified  faces,  their 
flight  so  soft  and  broad-winged.  And  then  to  the  birds  his 
brother  had  shot,  fluffy,  dust-coloured,  dead  heaps  of  soft- 
ness with  faces  absurdly  asleep.  It  was  a  queer  thing,  a 
dead  owl. 

He  lifted  his  cup  to  his  lips,  he  watched  the  child  with  the 
beads.  But  his  mind  was  occupied  with  owls,  and  the  at- 
mosphere of  his  boyhood,  with  his  brothers  and  sisters.  Else- 
where, fundamental,  he  was  with  his  wife  in  labour,  the  child 
was  being  brought  forth  out  of  their  one  flesh.  He  and 
she,  one  flesh,  out  of  which  life  must  be  put  forth.  The  rent 
was  not  in  his  body,  but  it  was  of  his  body.  On  her  the 
blows  fell,  but  the  quiver  ran  through  to  him,  to  his  last 
fibre.  She  must  be  torn  asunder  for  life  to  come  forth,  yet 
still  they  were  one  flesh,  and  still,  from  further  back,  the 
life  came  out  of  him  to  her,  and  still  he  was  the  unbroken 
that  has  the  broken  rock  in  its  arms,  their  flesh  was  one  rock 
from  which  the  life  gushed,  out  of  her  who  was  smitten  and 
rent,  from  him  who  quivered  and  yielded. 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  67 

He  went  upstairs  to  her.  As  he  came  to  the  bedside  she 
spoke  to  him  in  Polish: 

"  Is  it  very  bad  ?  "  he  asked. 

She  looked  at  him,  and  oh,  the  weariness  to  her,  of  the 
effort  to  understand  another  language,  the  weariness  of  hear- 
ing him,  attending  to  him,  making  out  who  he  was,  as  he 
stood  there  fair-bearded  and  alien,  looking  at  her.  She  knew 
something  of  him,  of  his  eyes.  But  she  could  not  grasp  him. 
She  closed  her  eyes. 

He  turned  away,  white  to  the  gills. 

"  It's  not  so  very  bad/'  said  the  midwife. 

He  knew  he  was  a  strain  on  his  wife.     He  went  down-staira 

The  child  glanced  up  at  him,  frightened. 

"  I  want  my  mother,''"  she  quavered. 

"•Ay,  but  she's  badly,"  he  said  mildly,  unheeding. 

She  looked  at  him  with  lost,  frightened  eyes. 

"  Has  she  got  a  headache  ?  " 

"  No  —  she's  going  to  have  a  baby." 

The  child  looked  round.  He  was  unaware  of  her.  Sh« 
was  alone  again  in  terror. 

"  I  want  my  mother,"  came  the  cry  of  panic. 

"Let  Tilly 'undress  you,"  he  said.     "You're  tired." 

There  was  another  silence.     Again  came  the  cry  of  labour 

"  I  want  my  mother,"  rang  automatically  from  the  wincing, 
panic-stricken  child,  that  felt  cut  off  and  lost  in  a  horror  of 
desolation. 

Tilly  came  forward,  her  heart  wrung. 

"  Come  an'  let  me  undress  her  then,  pet-lamb,"  she  crooned. 
"You  s'll  have  your  mother  in  th'  mornin',  don't  you  fret, 
my  duckie ;  never  mind,  angel ." 

But  Anna  stood  upon  the  sofa,  her  back  to  the  wall. 

"  I  want  my  mother,"  she  cried,  her  little  face  quivering, 
and  the  great  tears  of  childish,  utter  anguish  falling. 

"  She's  poorly,  my  lamb,  she's  poorly  to-night,  but  she'll 
be  better  by  mornin'.  Oh,  don't  cry,  don't  cry,  love,  she 
doesn't  want  you  to  cry,  precious  little  heart,  no,  she  doesn't." 

Tilly  took  gently  hold  of  the  child's  skirts.  Anna  snatched 
back  her  dress,  and  cried,  in  a  little  hysteria : 

"  No,  you're  not  to  undress  me  —  I  want  my  mother,"- 
and  her  child's  face  was  running  with  grief  and  tears,  her 
body  shaken. 

"Oh,  but  let  Tilly  undress  you.     Let  Tilly  undress  you, 


68  THE  RAINBOW 

who  loves  you,  don't  be  wilful  to-night.  Mother's  poorly, 
she  doesn't  want  you  to  cry." 

The  child  sobbed  distractedly,  she  could  not  hear. 

"  I  want  my  mother,"  she  wept. 

"  When  you're  undressed,  you  s'll  go  up  to  see  your  mother 
—  when  you're  undressed,  pet,  when  you've  let  Tilly  undress 
you,  when  you're  a  little  jewel  in  your  nightie,  love.  Oh, 
don't  you  cry,  don't  you " 

Brangwen  sat  stiff  in  his  chair.  He  felt  his  brain  going 
tighter.  He  crossed  over  the  room,  aware  only  of  the  madden- 
ing sobbing. 

"Don't  make  a  noise,"  he  said. 

And  a  new  fear  shook  the  child  from  the  sound  of  his  voice. 
She  cried  mechanically,  her  eyes  looking  watchful  through  her 
tears,  in  terror,  alert  to  what  might  happen. 

"  I  want  —  my  —  mother/'  quavered  the  sobbing,  blind 
voice. 

A  shiver  of  irritation  went  over  the  man's  limbs.  It  was 
the  utter,  persistent  unreason,  the  maddening  blindness  of 
the  voice  and  the  crying. 

"  You  must  come  and  be  undressed,"  he  said,  in  a  quiet 
voice  that  was  thin  with  anger. 

And  he  reached  his  hand  and  grasped  her.  He  felt  her 
body  catch  in  a  convulsive  sob.  But  he  too  was  blind,  and 
intent,  irritated  into  mechanical  action.  He  began  to  un- 
fasten her  little  apron.  She  would  have  shrunk  from  him, 
but  could  not.  So  her  small  body  remained  in  his  grasp, 
while  he  fumbled  at  the  little  buttons  and  tapes,  unthinking, 
intent,  unaware  of  anything  but  the  irritation  of  her.  Her 
body  was  held  taut  and  resistant,  he  pushed  off  the  little 
dress  and  the  petticoats,  revealing  the  white  arms.  She 
kept  stiff,  overpowered,  violated,  he  went  on  with  his  task. 
And  all  the  while  she  sobbed,  choking: 

"  I  want  my  mother." 

He  was  unheedingly  silent,  his  face  stiff.  The  child  was 
now  incapable  of  understanding,  she  had  become  a  little, 
mechanical  thing  of  fixed  will.  She  wept,  her  body  con- 
vulsed,  her  voice  repeating  the  same  cry. 

"  Eh,  dear  o'  me !  "  cried  Tilly,  becoming  distracted  herself. 
Brangwen,  slow,  clumsy,  blind,  intent,  got  off  all  the  little 
garments,  and  stood  the  child  naked  in  its  shift  upon  the 
sofa. 

"Where's  her  nightie?"  he  asked. 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  69 

Tilly  brought  it,  and  lie  put  it  on  her.  Anna  did  not  move 
her  limbs  to  his  desire.  He  had  to  push  them  into  place. 
She  stood,  with  fixed,  blind  will,  resistant,  a  small,  con- 
vulsed, unchangeable  thing  weeping  ever  and  repeating  the 
same  phrase.  He  lifted  one  foot  after  the  other,  pulled  off 
slippers  and  socks.  She  was  ready. 

"  Do  you  want  a  drink  ?  "  he  asked. 

She  did  not  change.  Unheeding,  uncaring,  she  stood  on 
the  sofa,  standing  back,  alone,  her  hands  shut  and  half 
lifted,  her  face,  all  tears,  raised  and  blind.  And  through  the 
sobbing  and  choking  came  the  broken : 

"I  —  want  —  my  —  mother." 

"  Do  you  want  a  drink  ?  "  he  said  again. 

There  was  no  answer.  He  lifted  the  stiff,  denying  body 
between  his  hands.  Its  stiff  blindness  made  a  flash  of  rage 
go  through  him.  He  would  like  to  break  it. 

He  set  the  child  on  his  knee,  and  sat  again  in  his  chair 
beside  the  fire,  the  wet,  sobbing,  inarticulate  noise  going 
on  near  his  ear,  the  child  sitting  stiff,  not  yielding  to  him  01 
anything,  not  aware. 

A  new  degree  of  anger  came  over  him.  "What  did  it  all 
matter?  What  did  it  matter  if  the  mother  talked  Polish 
and  cried  in  labour,  if  this  child  were  stiff  with  resistance, 
and  crying?  Why  take  it  to  heart?  Let  the  mother  cry 
In  labour,  let  -the  child  cry  in  resistance,  since  they  would 
do  so.  Why  should  he  fight  against  it,  why  resist?  Let 
it  be,  if  it  were  so.  Let  them  be  as  they  were,  if  they  in- 
sisted. 

And  in  a  daze  he  sat,  offering  no  fight.  The  child  cried 
on,  the  minutes  ticked  away,  a  sort  of  torpor  was  on  him. 

It  was  some  little  time  before  he  came  to,  and  turned  to 
attend  to  the  child.  He  was  shocked  by  her  little  wet,  blinded 
face.  A  bit  dazed,  he  pushed  back  the  wet  hair.  Like  a  liv- 
ing statue  of  grief,  her  blind  face  cried  on. 

"  Nay,"  he  said,  "  not  as  bad  as  that.  It's  not  as  bad  as 
that,  Anna,  my  child.  Come,  what  are  you  crying  for  so 
much?  Come,  stop  now,  it'll  make  you  sick.  I  wipe  you 
dry,  don't  wet  your  face  any  more.  Don't  cry  any  more 
wet  tears,  don't,  it's  better  not  to.  Don't  cry  —  it's  not  so 
bad  as  all  that.  Hush  now,  hush  —  let  it  be  enough." 

His  voice  was  queer  and  distant  and  calm.  He  looked  at 
the  child.  She  was  beside  herself  now.  He  wanted  her  to 
stop,  he  wanted  it  all  to  stop,  to  become  natural. 


70  THE  RAINBOW 

"Come/'  he  said,  rising  to  turn  away,  "we'll  go  an'  sup- 
per-up  the  beast." 

He  took  a  big  shawl,  folded  her  round,  and  went  out  into 
the  kitchen  for  the  lantern. 

"  You're  never  taking  the  child  out,  of  a  night  like  this," 
said  Tilly. 

"  Ay,  it'll  quieten  her,"  he  answered. 

It  was  raining.  The  child  was  suddenly  still,  shocked, 
finding  the  rain  on  its  face,  the  darkness. 

"We'll  just  give  the  co\*s  their  something-to-eat,  afore 
they  go  to  bed,"  Brangwen  was  saying  to  her,  holding  her 
close  and  sure. 

There  was  a  trickling  of  water  into  the  butt,  a  burst  of 
rain-drops  sputtering  on  to  her  shawl,  and  the  light  of  the 
lantern  swinging,  flashing  on  a  wet  pavement  and  the  base 
of  a  wet  wall.  Otherwise  it  was  black  darkness :  one  breathed 
darkness. 

He  opened  the  doors,  upper  and  lower,  and  they  entered 
into  the  high,  dry  barn,  that  smelled  warm  even  if  it  were 
not  warm.  He  hung  the  lantern  on  the  nail  and  shut  the 
door.  They  were  in  another  world  now.  The  light  shed 
softly  on  the  timbered  barn,  on  the  white-washed  walls,  and 
the  great  heap  of  hay ;  instruments  cast  their  shadows  largely, 
a  ladder  rose  to  the  dark  arch  of  a  loft.  Outside  there  was 
the  driving  rain,  inside,  the  softly-illuminated  stillness  and 
calmness  of  the  barn. 

Holding  the  child  on  one  arm,  he  set  about  preparing  the 
food  for  the  cows,  filling  a  pan  with  chopped  hay  and  brewer's 
grains  and  a  little  meal.  The  child,  all  wonder,  watched 
what  he  did.  A  new  being  was  created  in  her  for  the  new 
conditions.  Sometimes,  a  little  spasm,  eddying  from  the 
bygone  storm  of  sobbing,  shook  her  small  body.  Her  eyes 
were  wide  and  wondering,  pathetic.  She  was  silent,  quite 
still. 

In  a  sort  of  dream,  his  heart  sunk  to  the  bottom,  leaving 
the  surface  of  him  still,  quite  still,  he  rose  with  the  panful 
of  food,  carefully  balancing  the  child  on  one  arm,  the  pan  in 
the  other  hand.  The  silky  fringe  of  the  shawl  swayed  softly, 
grains  and  hay  trickled  to  the  floor;  he  went  along  a  dimly- 
lit  passage  behind  the  mangers,  where  the  horns  of  the  cows 
pricked  out  of  the  obscurity.  The  child  shrank,  he  balanced 
•stiffly,  rested  the  pan  on  the  manger  wall,  and  tipped  out  the 
food,  half  to  this  cow,  half  to  the  next.  There  was  a  noise 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  71 

of  chains  running,  as  the  cows  lifted  or  dropped  their  heads 
sharply;  then  a  contented,  soothing  sound,  a  long  snuffing 
as  the  beasts  ate  in  silence. 

The  journey  had  to  be  performed  several  times.  There 
was  the  rhythmic  sound  of  the  shovel  in  the  barn,  then  the 
man  returned  walking  stiffly  between  the  two  weights,  the 
face  of  the  child  peering  out  from  the  shawl.  Then  the  next 
time,  as  he  stooped,  she  freed  her  arm  and  put  it  round  his 
neck,  clinging  soft  and  warm,  making  all  easier. 

The  beasts  fed,  he  dropped  the  pan  and  sat  down  on  a  box, 
to  arrange  the  child. 

"  Will  the  COAVS  go  to  sleep  now  ?  "  she  said,  catching  he* 
breath  as  she  spoke. 

"  Yes." 

"  Will  they  eat  all  their  stuff  up  first?  " 

"  Yes.     Hark  at  them." 

And  the  two  sat  still  listening  to  the  snuffing  and  breathing 
of  cows  feeding  in  the  sheds  communicating  with  this  small 
barn.  The  lantern  shed  a  soft,  steady  light  from  one  wall. 
All  outside  was  still  in  the  rain.  He  looked  down  at  the- 
silky  folds  of  the  paisley  shawl.  It  reminded  him  of  his 
mother.  She  used  to  go  to  church  in  it.  He  was  back  again 
in  the  old  irresponsibility  and  security,  a  boy  at  home. 

The  two  sat  very  quiet.  His  mind,  in  a  sort  of  trance, 
seemed  to  become  more  and  more  vague.  He  held  the  child 
close  to  him.  A  quivering  little  shudder,  re-echoing  ,from 
her  sobbing,  went  down  her  limbs.  He  held  her  closer. 
Gradually  she  relaxed,  the  eyelids  began  to  sink  over  her 
dark,  watchful  eyes.  As  she  sank  to  sleep,  his  mind  became 
blank. 

When  he  came  to,  as  if  from  sleep,  he  seemed  to  be  sitting 
in  a  timeless  stillness.  What  was  he  listening  for?  He 
seemed  to  be  listening  for  some  sound  a  long  way  off,  from 
beyond  life.  He  remembered  his  wife.  He  must  go  back  to 
her.  The  child  was  asleep,  the  eyelids  not  quite  shut,  show- 
ing a  slight  film  of  black  pupil  between.  Why  did  she  not 
shut  her  eyes  ?  Her  mouth  was  also  a  little  open. 

He  rose  quickly  and  went  back  to  the  house. 

"  Is  she  asleep  ?  "  whispered  Tilly. 

He  nodded.  The  servant-woman  came  to  look  at  the  chile 
who  slept  in  the  shawl,  with  cheeks  flushed  hot  and  red,  and 
a  whiteness,  a  wanness  round  the  eyes. 

'•  God-a-mercy !  "  whispered  Tilly,  shaking  her  head. 


72  THE  RAINBOW 

He  pushed  off  his  boots  and  went  upstairs  with  the  child. 
He  became  aware  of  the  anxiety  grasped  tight  at  his  heart, 
because  of  his  wife.  But  he  remained  still.  The  house  was 
silent  save  for  the  wind  outside,  and  the  noisy  trickling  and 
splattering  of  water  in  the  water-butts.  There  was  a  slit  of 
light  under  his  wife's  door. 

He  put  the  child  into  bed  wrapped  as  she  was  in  the  shawl, 
for  the  sheets  would  be  cold.  Then  he  was  afraid  that  she 
might  not  be  able  to  move  her  arms,  so  he  loosened  her.  The 
black  eyes  opened,  rested  on  him  vacantly,  sank  shut  again. 
He  covered  her  up.  The  last  little  quiver  from  the-  sobbing 
shook  her  breathing. 

This  was  his  room,  the  room  he  had  had  before  he  married. 
It  was  familiar.  He  remembered  what  it  was  to  be  a  young 
man,  untouched. 

He  remained  suspended.  The  child  slept,  pushing  her 
imall  fists  from  the  shawl.  He  could  tell  the  woman  her 
ehild  was  asleep.  But  he  must  go  to  the  other  landing.  He 
started.  There  was  the  sound  of  the  owls  —  the  moaning 
of  the  woman.  What  an  uncanny  sound !  It  was  not  human 
• —  at  least  to  a  man. 

He  went  down  to  her  room,  entering  softly.  She  was  lying 
itill,  with  eyes  shut,  pale,  tired.  His  heart  leapt,  fearing 
she  was  dead.  Yet  he  knew  perfectly  well  she  was  not.  He 
saw  the  way  her  hair  went  loose  over  her  temples,  her  mouth 
was  shut  with  suffering  in  a  sort  of  grin.  She  was  beautiful 
to  him  —  but  it  was  not  human.  He  had  a  dread  of  her  as 
she  lay  there.  What  had  she  to  do  with  him  ?  She  was  other 
than  himself. 

Something  made  him  go  and  touch  her  fingers  that  were 
still  grasped  on  the  sheet.  Her  brown-grey  eyes  opened  and 
looked  at  him.  She  did  not  know  him  as  himself.  But  she 
knew  him  as  the  man.  She  looked  at  him  as  a  woman 
in  childbirth  looks  at  the  man  who  begot  the  child  in  her: 
an  impersonal  look,  in  the  extreme  hour,  female  to  male. 
Her  eyes  closed  again.  A  great,  scalding  peace  went  over  him, 
burning  his  heart  and  his  entrails,  passing  off  into  the 
infinite. 

When  her  pains  began  afresh,  tearing  her,  he  turned  aside, 
and  could  not  look.  But  his  heart  in  torture  was  at  peace, 
his  bowels  were  glad.  He  went  downstairs,  and  to  the  door, 
outside,  lifted  his  face  to  the  rain,  and  felt  the  darkness 
striking  unseen  and  steadily  upon  him. 


THEY  LIVE  AT  THE  MARSH  73 

The  swift,  unseen  threshing  of  the  night  upon  him  silenced 
him  and  he  was  overcome.  He  turned  away  indoors,  humbly. 
There  was  the  infinite  world,  eternal,  unchanging,  as  wel]  as 
the  world  of  life. 


CHAPTER  III 

CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY 

TOM  BRANGWEN  never  loved  his  own  son  as  he  loved 
his  step-child  Anna.     When  they  told  him  it  was  a 
boy,  he  had  a  thrill  of  pleasure.     He  liked  the  con- 
firmation of  fatherhood.     It  gave  him  satisfaction  to 
know  he  had  a  son.     But  he  felt  not  very  much  outgoing  to 
the  baby  itself.     He  was  its  father,  that  was  enough. 

He  was  glad  that  his  wife  was  mother  of  his  child.  She 
was  serene,  a  little  bit  shadowy,  as  if  she  were  transplanted. 
In  the  birth  of  the  child  she  seemed  to  lose  connection  with 
her  former  self.  She  became  now  really  English,  really  Mrs. 
Brangwen.  Her  vitality,  however,  seemed  lowered. 

She  was  still,  to  Brangwen,  immeasurably  beautiful.  She 
was  still  passionate,  with  a  flame  of  being.  But  the  flame 
was  not  robust  and  present.  Her  eyes  shone,  her  face  glowed 
for  him,  but  like  some  flower  opened  in  the  shade,  that  could 
not  bear  the  full  light.  She  loved  the  baby.  But  even  this, 
with  a  sort  of  dimness,  a  faint  absence  about  her,  a  shadowi- 
ness  even  in  her  mother-love.  When  Brangwen  saw  her 
nursing  his  child,  happy,  absorbed  in  it,  a  pain  went  over 
him  like  a  thin  flame.  For  he  perceived  how  he  must  subdue 
himself  in  his  approach  to  her.  And  he  wanted  again  the 
robust,  moral  exchange  of  love  and  passion  such  as  he  had 
had  at  first  with  her,  at  one  time  and  another,  when  they 
were  matched  at  their  highest  intensity.  This  was  the  one 
experience  for  him  now.  And  he  wanted  it,  always,  with  re- 
morseless craving. 

She  came  to  him  again,  with  the  same  lifting  her  mouth  as 
had  driven  him  almost  mad  with  trammelled  passion  at  first. 
She  came  to  him  again,  and,  his  heart  delirious  in  delight 
and  readiness,  he  took  her.  And  it  was  almost  as  before. 

Perhaps  it  was  quite  as  before.  At  any  rate,  it  made  him 
know  perfection,  it  established  in  him  a  constant,  eternal 
knowledge. 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY  75 

But  it  died  down  before  he  wanted  it  to  die  down.  She 
was  finished,  she  could  take  no  more.  And  he  was  not  ex- 
hausted, he  wanted  to  go  on.  But  it  could  not  be. 

So  he  had  to  begin  the  bitter  lesson,  to 'abate  himself,  to 
take  less  than  he  wanted.  For  she  was  Woman  to  him,  all 
other  women  were  her  shadows.  For  she  had  satisfied  him. 
And  he  wanted  it  to  go  on.  And  it  could  not.  However 
he  raged,  and,  filled  with  suppression  that  became  hot  and 
bitter,  hated  her  in  his  soul  that  she  did  not  want  him,  how- 
ever he  had  mad  outbursts,  and  drank  and  made  ugly  scenes, 
still  he  knew,  he  was  only  kicking  against  the  pricks.  It  was 
not,  he  had  to  learn,  that  she  would  not  want  him  enough, 
as  much  as  he  demanded  that  she  should  want  him.  It  was 
that  she  could  not.  She  could  only  want  him  in  her  own  way, 
and  to  her  own  measure.  And  she  had  spent  much  life  before 
he  found  her  as  she  was,  the  woman  who  could  take  him  and 
give  him  fulfilment.  She  had  taken  him  and  given  him  fulfil- 
ment. She  still  would  do  so,  in  her  own  times  and  ways. 
But  he.  must  control  himself,  measure  himself  to  her. 

He  wanted  to  give  her  all  his  love,  all  his  passion,  all  his 
essential  energy.  But  it  could  not  be.  He  must  find  other 
things  than  her,  other  centres  of  living.  She  sat  close  and 
impregnable  with  the  child.  And  he  was  jealous  of  the  child. 

But  he  loved  her,  and  time  came  to  give  some  sort  of  course 
to  his  troublesome  current  of  life,  so  that  it  did  not  foam  and 
flood  and  make  misery.  He  formed  another  centre  of  love  in 
her  child,  Anna.  Gradually  a  part  of  his  stream  of  life  was 
diverted  to  the  child,  relieving  the  main  flood  to  his  wife. 
Also  he  sought  the  company  of  men,  he  drank  heavily  now  and 
again. 

The  child  ceased  to  have  so  much  anxiety  for  her  mother 
after  the  baby  came.  Seeing  the  mother  with  the  baby  boy, 
delighted  and  serene  and  secure,  Anna  was  at  first  puzzled, 
then  gradually  she  became  indignant,  and  at  last  her  little  life 
settled  on  its  own  swivel,  she  was  no  more  strained  and  dis- 
torted to  support  her  mother.  She  became  more  childish,  not 
so  abnormal,  not  charged  with  cares  she  could  not  understand. 
The  charge  of  the  mother,  the  satisfying  of  the  mother,  had 
devolved  elsewhere  than  on  her.  Gradually  the  child  was 
freed.  She  became  an  independent,  forgetful  little  soul, 
loving  from  her  own  centre. 

Of  her  own  choice,  she  then  loved  Brangwen  most,  or  most 
obviously.  For  these  two  made  a  little  life  together,  they 


76  THE  RAINBOW 

had  a  joint  activity.  It  amused  him,  at  evening,  to  teach  her 
to  count,  or  to  say  her  letters.  He  remembered  for  her  all 
the  little  nursery  rhymes  and  childish  songs  that  lay  forgotten 
at  the  bottom  of  his  brain. 

At  first  she  thought  them  rubbish.  But  he  laughed,  and 
she  laughed.  They  became  to  her  a  huge  joke.  Old  King 
Cole  she  thought  was  Brangwen.  Mother  Hubbard  was  Tilly, 
her  mother  was  the  old  woman  who  lived  in  a  shoe.  It  was  a 
huge,  it  was  a  frantic  delight  to  the  child,  this  nonsense,  after 
her  years  with  her  mother,  after  the  poignant  folk-tales  she  had 
had  from  her  mother,  which  always  troubled  and  mystified 
her  soul. 

She  shared  a  sort  of  recklessness  with  her  father,  a  com- 
plete, chosen  carelessness  that  had  the  laugh  of  ridicule  in 
it.  He  loved  to  make  her  voice  go  high  and  shouting  and 
defiant  with  laughter.  The  baby  was  dark-skinned  and  dark- 
haired,  like  the  mother,  and  had  hazel  eyes.  Brangwen  called 
him  the  blackbird. 

"Hallo,"  Brangwen  would  cry,  starting  as  he  heard  the 
wail  of  the  child  announcing  it  wanted  to  be  taken  out  of 
the  cradle,  "  there's  the  blackbird  tuning  up." 

"  The  blackbird's  singing,"  Anna  would  shout  with  delight, 
"  the  blackbird's  singing." 

"  When  the  pie  was  opened,"  Brangwen  shouted  in  his  bawl- 
ing bass  voice,  going  over  to  the  cradle,  "  the  bird  began  to 
sing." 

"Wasn't  it  a  dainty  dish  to  set  before  a  king?"  cried 
Anna,  her  eyes  flashing  with  joy  as  she  uttered  the  cryptic 
words,  looking  at  Brangwen  for  confirmation.  He  sat  down 
with  the  baby,  saying  loudly : 

"  Sing  up,  my  lad,  sing  up." 

And  the  baby  cried  loudly,  and  Anna  shouted  lustily,  danc- 
ing in  wild  bliss : 

"  Sing  a  song  of  sixpence 
Pocketful  of  posies, 
Ascha !     Ascha ! " 

Then  she  stopped  suddenly  in  silence  and  looked  at  Brang- 
wen again,  her  eyes  flashing,  as  she  shouted  loudly  and  de- 
lightedly : 

"  I've  got  it  wrong,  I've  got  it  wrong." 

"  Oh,  my  sirs,"  said  Tilly,  entering,  "  what  a  racket ! " 

Brangwen  hushed  the  child  and  Anna  flipped  and  danced  on. 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY  77j 

She  loved  her  wild  bursts  of  rowdiness  with  her  father.  Tilly 
hated  it,  Mrs.  Brangwen  did  not  mind. 

Anna  did  not  care  much  for  other  children.  She  domi- 
neered them,  she  treated  them  as  if  they  were  extremely  young 
and  incapable,  to  her  they  were  little  people,  they  were  not  her 
equals.  So  she  was  mostly  alone,  flying  round  the  farm,  en- 
tertaining the  farm-hands  and  Tilly  and  the  servant-girl,  whir- 
ring on  and  never  ceasing. 

She  loved  driving  with  Brangwen  in  the  trap.  Then,  sit- 
ting high  up  and  bowling  along,  her  passion  for  eminence 
and  dominance  was  satisfied.  She  was  like  a  little  savage  in 
her  arrogance.  She  thought  her  father  important,  she  was 
installed  beside  him  on  high.  And  they  spanked  along,  beside 
the  high,  flourishing  hedge-tops,  surveying  the  activity  of  the 
countryside.  When  people  shouted  a  greeting  to  him  from 
the  road  below,  and  Brangwen  shouted  jovially  back,  her  little 
voice  was  soon  heard  shrilling  along  with  his,  followed  by  her 
chuckling  laugh,  when  she  looked  up  at  her  father  with  bright 
eyes,  and  they  laughed  at  each  other.  And  soon  it  was  the 
custom  for  the  passerby  to  sing  out:  "How  are  ter,  Tom? 
Well,  my  lady !  "  or  else,  "  Mornin',  Tom,  mornin',  my  Lass !  " 
or  else,  "  You're  off  together  then  ?  "  or  else,  "  You're  lookin' 
rarely,  you  two." 

Anna  would  respond,  with  her  father:  "How  are  you, 
John!  Good  mornin',  William!  Ay,  makin'  for  Derby," 
shrilling  as  loudly  as  she  could.  Though  often,  in  response 
to  "  You're  off  out  a  bit  .then,"  she  would  reply,  "  Yes,  we 
are,"  to  the  great  joy  of  all.  She  did  not  like  the  people  who 
saluted  him  and  did  not  salute  her. 

She  went  into  the  public-house  with  him,  if  he  had  to  call, 
and  often  sat  beside  him  in  the  bar-parlour  as  he  drank  his 
beer  or  brandy.  The  landladies  paid  court  to  her,  in  the  ob- 
sequious way  landladies  have. 

"  Well,  little  lady,  an'  what's  your  name  ?  " 

"  Anna  Brangwen,"  came  the  immediate,  haughty  answer. 

"  Indeed  it  is !  An'  do  you  like  driving  in  a  trap  with 
your  father  ?  " 

"  Yes,"  said  Anna,  shy,  but  bored  by  these  inanities.  She 
had  a  touch-me-not  way  of  blighting  the  inane  inquiries  of 
grown-up  people. 

"  My  word,  she's  a  f awce  little  thing,"  the  landlady  would 
say  to  Brangwen. 

"  Ay,"  he  answered,  not  encouraging  comments  on  the  child- 


78  THE  RAINBOW 

Then  there  followed  the  present  of  a  biscuit,  or  of  cake,  which 
Anna  accepted  as  her  dues. 

"What  does  she  say,  that  I'm  a  fawce  little  thing?"  the 
small  girl  asked  afterwards. 

"  She  means  you're  a  sharp-shins." 

Anna  hesitated.  She  did  not  understand.  Then  she 
laughed  at  some  absurdity  she  found. 

Soon  he  took  her  every  week  to  market  with  him.  "  I  can 
come,  can't  I  ?  "  she  asked  every  Saturday,  or  Thursday  morn- 
ing, when  he  made  himself  look  fine  in  his  dress  of  a  gentleman 
farmer.  And  his  face  clouded  at  having  to  refuse  her. 

So  at  last,  he  overcame  his  own  shyness,  and  tucked  her 
beside  him.  They  drove  into  Nottingham  and  put  up  at  the 
Black  Swan.  So  far  all  right.  Then  he  wanted  to  leave 
her  at  the  inn.  But  he  saw  her  face,  and  knew  it  was  im- 
possible. So  he  mustered  his  courage,  and  set  off  with  her, 
holding  her  hand,  to  the  cattle-market. 

She  stared  in  bewilderment,  flitting  silent  at  his  side.  But 
in  the  cattle-market  she  shrank  from  the  press  of  men,  all 
men,  all  in  heavy,  filthy  boots,  and  leathern  leggins.  And 
the  road  underfoot  .was  all  nasty  with  cow-muck.  And  it 
frightened  her  to  see  the  cattle  in  the  square  pens,  so  many 
horns,  and  so  little  enclosure,  and  such  a  madness  of  men  and 
a  yelling  of  drovers.  Also  she  felt  her  father  was  embarrassed 
by  her,  and  ill-at-ease. 

He  bought  her  a  cake  at  the  refreshment-booth,  and  set 
her  on  a  seat.  A  man  hailed  him. 

"Good  morning,  Tom.  That  thine,  then?"— and  the 
bearded  farmer  jerked  his  head  at  Anna. 

"  Ay,"  said  Brangwen,  deprecating. 

"  I  did-na  know  tha'd  one  that  old." 

"  No,  it's  my  missis's." 

"  Oh,  that's  it ! "  And  the  man  looked  at  Anna  as  if  she 
were  some  odd  little  cattle.  She  glowered  with  black  eyes. 

Brangwen  left  her  there,  in  charge  of  the  barman,  whilst 
he  went  to  see  about  the  selling  of  some  young  stirks.  Farm- 
ers, butchers,  drovers,  dirty,  uncouth  men  from  whom  she 
shrank  instinctively  stared  down  at  her  as  she  sat  on  her  seat, 
then  went  to  get  their  drink,  talking  in  unabated  tones.  All 
was  big  and  violent  about  her. 

"  Whose  child  met  that  be?  "  they  asked  of  the  barman. 

"  It  belongs  to  Tom  Brangwen." 

The  child  sat  on  in  neglect,  watching  the  door  for  her 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY       79 

father.  He  never  came;  many,  many  men  came,  but  not 
he,  and  she  sat  like  a  shadow.  She  knew  one  did  not  cry 
in  such  a  place.  And  every  man  looked  at  her  inquisitive^ 
she  shut  herself  away  from  them. 

A  deep,  gathering  coldness  of  isolation  took  hold  on  her. 
He  was  never  coming  back.  She  sat  on,  frozen,  unmoving. 

When  she  had  become  blank  and  timeless  he  came,  and 
she  slipped  off  her  seat  to  him,  like  one  come  back  from  the 
dead.  He  had  sold  his  beast  as  quickly  as  he  could.  But 
all  the  business  was  not  finished.  He  took  her  again  through 
the  hurtling  welter  of  the  cattle-market. 

Then  at  last  they  turned  and  went  out  through  the  gate. 
He  was  always  hailing  one  man  or  another,  always  stopping 
to  gossip  about  land  and  cattle  and  horses  and  other  things 
she  did  not  understand,  standing  in  the  filth  and  the  smell, 
among  the  legs  and  great  boots  of  men.  And  always  she 
heard  the  questions : 

"What  lass  is  that,  then?  I  didn't  know  tha'd  one  o'  that 
age." 

"  It  belongs  to  my  missis." 

Anna  was  very  conscious  of  her  derivation  from  her  mother, 
in  the  end,  and  of  her  alienation. 

But  at  last  they  were  away,  and  Brangwen  went  with  her 
into  a  little  dark,  ancient  eating-house  in  the  Bridlesmith- 
Gate.  They  had  cow's-tail  soup,  and  meat  and  cabbage  and 
potatoes.  Other  men,  other  people,  came  into  the  dark, 
vaulted  place,  to  eat.  Anna  was  wide-eyed  and  silent  with 
wonder. 

Then  they  went  into  the  big  market,  into  the  corn  ex- 
change, then  to  shops.  He  bought  her  a  little  book  off  a 
stall.  He  loved  buying  things,  odd  things  that  he  thought 
would  be  useful.  Then  they  went  to  the  Black  Swan,  and 
she  drank  milk  and  he  brandy,  and  they  harnessed  the  horse 
and  drove  off,  up  the  Derby  Eoad. 

She  was  tired  out  with  wonder  and  marvelling.  But  the 
next  day,  when  she  thought  of  it,  she  skipped,  flipping  her 
leg  in  the  odd  dance  she  did,  and  talked  the  whole  time  of 
what  had  happened  to  her,  of  what  she  had  seen.  It  lasted 
her  all  the  week.  And  the  next  Saturday  she  was  eager  to 
go  again. 

She  became  a  familiar  figure  in  the  cattle-market,  sitting 
waiting  in  the  little  booth.  But  she  liked  best  to  go  to  Derby. 
There  her  father  had  more  friends.  And  she  liked  the 


80  THE  RAINBOW 

familiarity  of  the  smaller  town,  the  nearness  of  the  river,  the 
strangeness  that  did  not  frighten  her,  it  was  so  much  smaller. 
She  liked  the  covered-in  market,  and  the  old  women.  She 
liked  the  George  Inn,  where  her  father  put  up.  The  landlord 
was  Brangwen's  old  friend,  and  Anna  was  made  much  of.  She 
sat  many  a  day  in  the  cosy  parlour  talking  to  Mr.  Wigginton, 
a  fat  man  with  red  hair,  the  landlord.  And  when  the  farmers 
all  gathered  at  twelve  o'clock  for  dinner,  she  was  a  little 
heroine. 

At  first  she  would  only  glower  or  hiss  at  these  strange  men 
with  their  uncouth  accent.  But  they  were  good-humoured. 
She  was  a  little  oddity,  with  her  fierce,  fair  hair  like  spun 
glass  sticking  out  in  a  flamy  halo  round  the  apple-blossom 
face  and  the  black  eyes,  and  the  men  liked  an  oddity.  She 
kindled  their  attention. 

She  was  very  angry  because  Marriott,  a  gentleman-farmer 
from  Ambergate,  called  her  the  little  pole-cat. 

"Why,  you're  a  pole-cat,"  he  said  to  her. 

"  I'm  not,"  she  flashed. 

"  You  are.     That's  just  how  a  pole-cat  goes." 

She  thought  about  it. 

"  Well,  you're  —  you're "  she  began. 

"I'm  what?" 

She  looked  him  up  and  down. 

"  You're  a  bow-leg  man." 

Which  he  was.  There  was  a  roar  of  laughter.  They  loved 
her  that  she  was  indomitable. 

"  Ah,"  said  Marriott.     "  Only  a  pole-cat  says  that." 

"Well,  I  am  a  pole-cat,"  she  flamed. 

There  was  another  roar  of  laughter  from  the  men. 

They  loved  to  tease  her. 

"  Well,  me  little  maid,"  Braithwaite  would  say  to  her,  "  an5 
how's  th'  lamb's  wool  ?  " 

He  gave  a  tug  at  a  glistening,  pale  piece  of  her  hair. 

"  It's  not  lamb's  wool,"  said  Anna,  indignantly  putting 
back  her  offended  lock. 

"  Why,  what'st  ca'  it  then  ?  " 

"It's  hair." 

"  Hair !     Wheriver  dun  they  rear  that  sort  ?  " 

"  Wheriver  dun  they  ?  "  she  asked ,  in  dialect,  her  curiosity 
overcoming  her. 

Instead  of  answering  he  shouted  with  joy.  It  was  the 
triumph,  to  make  her  speak  dialect. 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY  81 

She  had  one  enemy,  the  man  they  called  Nut-Nat,  or  Nat- 
Nut,  a  cretin,  with  inturned  feet,  who  came  flap-lapping  along, 
shoulder  jerking  up  at  every  step.  This  poor  creature  sold 
nuts  in  the  public-houses  where  he  was  known.  He  had  no 
roof  to  his  mouth,  and  the  men  used  to  mock  his  speech. 

The  first  time  he  came  into  the  George  when  Anna  was 
there,  she  asked,  after  he  had  gone,  her  eyes  very  round : 

"  Why  does  he  do  that  when  he  walks  ?  " 

"'E  canna  'elp  'isself,  Duckie,  it's  th'  make  o'  th?  fellow." 

She  thought  about  it,  then  she  laughed  nervously.  And 
then  she  bethought  herself,  her  cheeks  flushed,  and  she  cried : 

"  He's  a  horrid  man." 

"  Nay,  he's  non  horrid ;  he  canna  help  it  if  he  wor  struck 
that  road." 

But  when  poor  Nat  came  wambling  in  again,  she  slid  away. 
And  she  would  not  eat  his  nuts,  if  the  men  bought  them  for 
her.  And  when  the  farmers  gambled  at  dominoes  for  them, 
she  was  angry. 

"  They  are  dirty-man's  nuts,"  she  cried. 

So  a  revulsion  started  against  Nat,  who  had  not  long  after 
to.  go  to  the  workhouse. 

There  grew  in  Brangwen's  heart  now  a  secret  desire  to 
make  her  a  lady.  His  brother  Alfred,  in  Nottingham,  had 
caused  a  great  scandal  by  becoming  the  lover  of  an  educated 
woman,  a  lady,  widow  of  a  doctor.  Very  often,  Alfred  Brang- 
wen  went  down  as  a  friend  to  her  cottage,  which  was  in  Derby- 
shire, leaving  his  wife  and  family  for  a  day  or  two,  then  re* 
turning  to  them.  And  no-one  dared  gainsay  him,  for  he  was  a. 
strong-willed,  direct  man,  and  he  said  he  was  a  friend  of  this 
widow. 

One  day  Brangwen  met  his  brother  on  the  station. 

"  Where  are  you  going  to,  then  ?  "  asked  the  younger  brother. 

"  I'm  going  down  to  Wirksworth." 

"  You've  got  friends  down  there,  I'm  told." 

"Yes." 

"  I  s'll  have  to  be  lookin'  in  when  I'm  down  that  road." 

"  You  please  yourself." 

Tom  Brangwen  was  so  curious  about  the  woman  that  the 
next  time  he  was  in  Wirksworth  he  asked  for  her  house. 

He  found  a  beautiful  cottage  on  the  steep  side  of  a  hill, 
looking  clean  over  the  town,  that  lay  in  the  bottom  of  the 
basin,  and  away  at  the  old  quarries  on  the  opposite  side  of 
the  space.  Mrs.  Forbes  was  in  the  garden.  She  was  a  tall 


82  THE  RAINBOW 

woman  with  white  hair.  She  came  up  the  path  taking  off  her 
thick  gloves,  laying  down  her  shears.  It  was  autumn.  She 
wore  a  wide-brimmed  hat. 

Brangwen  blushed  to  the  roots  of  his  hair,  and  did  not 
know  what  to  say. 

".  I  thought  I  might  look  in,"  he  said,  "  knowing  you  were 
friends  of  my  brother's.  I  had  to  come  to  Wirksworth." 

She  saw  at  once  that  he  was  a  Brangwen. 

"  Will  you  come  in  ?  "  she  said.     "  My  father  is  lying  down." 

She  took  him  into  a  drawing-room,  full  of  books,  with  a 
piano  and  a  violin-stand.  And  they  talked,  she  simply  and 
easily.  She  was  full  of  dignity.  The  room  was  of  a  kind 
Brangwen  had  never  known ;  the  atmosphere  seemed  open 
and  spacious,  like  a  mountain-top  to  him. 

"  Does  my  brother  like  reading  ?  "  he  asked. 

"  Some  things.  He  has  been  reading  Herbert  Spencer. 
And  we  read  Browning  sometimes." 

Brangwen  was  full  of  admiration,  deep  thrilling,  almost 
reverential  admiration.  He  looked  at  her  with  lit-up  eyes 
when  she  said,  "  we  read."  At  last  he  burst  out,  looking  round 
the  room : 

"  I  didn't  know  our  Alfred  was  this  way  inclined." 

"He  is  quite  an  unusual  man." 

He  looked  at  her  in  amazement.  She  evidently  had  a 
new  idea  of  his  brother:  she  evidently  appreciated  him.  He 
looked  again  at  the  woman.  She  was  about  forty,  straight, 
rather  hard,  a  curious,  separate  creature.  Himself,  he  was  not 
in  love 'with  her,  there  was  something  chilling  about  her.  But 
he  was  filled  with  boundless  admiration. 

At  tea-time  he  was  introduced  to  her  father,  an  invalid  who 
had  to  be  helped  about,  but  who  was  ruddy  and  well-favoured, 
with  snowy  hair  and  watery  blue  eyes,  and  a  courtly  na'ive  man- 
ner that  again  was  new  and  strange  to  Brangwen,  so  suave,  so 
merry,  so  innocent. 

His  brother  was  this  woman's  lover !  It  was  too  amazing. 
Brangwen  went  home  despising  himself  for  his  own  poor  way 
of  life.  He  was  a  clod-hopper  and  a  boor,  dull,  stuck  in  the 
mud.  More  than  ever  he  wanted  to  clamber  out,  to  this 
visionary  polite  world. 

He  was  well  off.  He  was  as  well  off  as  Alfred,  who  could 
not  have  above  six  hundred  a  year,  all  told.  He  himself  made 
about  four  hundred,  and  could  make  more.  His  investment* 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY  SS 

got  better  every  day.  Why  did  he  not  do  something?  His 
wife  was  a  lady  also. 

But  when  he  got  to  the  Marsh,  he  realized  how  fixed  every- 
thing was,  how  the  other  form  of  life  was  beyond  him,  and  he 
regretted  for  the  first  time  that  he  had  succeeded  to  the  farm. 
He  felt  a  prisoner,  sitting  safe  and  easy  and  unadventurous. 
He  might,  with  risk,  have  done  more  with  himself.  He  could 
neither  read  Browning  nor  Herbert  Spencer,  nor  have  access 
to  such  a  room  as  Mrs.  Forbes's.  All  that  form  of  life  was 
outside  him. 

But  then,  he  said  he  did  not  want  it.  The  excitement  of 
the  visit  began  to  pass  off.  The  next  day  he  was  himself, 
and  if  he  thought  of  the  other  woman,  there  was  something 
about  her  and  her  place  that  he  did  not  like,  something  cold, 
something  alien,  as  if  she  were  not  a  woman,  but  an  inhuman 
being  who  used  up  human  life  for  cold,  unliving  purposes. 

The  evening  came  on,  he  played  with  Anna,  and  then  sat 
alone  with  his  own  wife.  She  was  sewing.  He  sat  very  still, 
smoking,  perturbed.  He  was  aware  of  his  wife's  quiet  figure, 
and  quiet  dark  head  bent  over  her  needle.  It  was  too  quiet 
for  him.  It  was  too  peaceful.  He  wanted  to  smash  the  walls 
down,  and  let  the  night  in,  so  that  his  wife  should  not  be  so 
secure  and  quiet,  sitting  there.  He  wished  the  air  were  not 
so  close  and  narrow.  His  wife  was  obliterated  from  him,  she 
was  in  her  own  world,  quiet,  secure,  unnoticed,  unnoticing. 
He  was  shut  down  by  her. 

He  rose  to  go  out.  He  could  not  sit  still  any  longer.  He 
must  get  out  of  this  oppressive,  shut-down,  woman-haunt. 

His  wife  lifted  her  head  and  looked  at  him. 

"  Are  you  going  out  ?  "  she  asked. 

He  looked  down  and  met  her  eyes.  They  were  darker  than 
darkness,  and  gave  deeper  space.  He  felt  himself  retreating 
before  her,  defensive,  whilst  her  eyes  followed  and  tracked  him 
down. 

"  I  was  just  going  up  to  Cossethay,"  he  said. 

She  remained  watching  him. 

"  Why  do  you  go  ?  "  she  said. 

His  heart  beat  fast,  and  he  sat  down,  slowly. 

"  No  reason  particular/'  he  said,  beginning  to  fill  his  pip$ 
again,  mechanically. 

"  Why  do  you  go  away  so  often  ?  "  she  said. 

"  But  you  don't  want  me,"  he  replied. 


84  THE  RAINBOW 

She  was  silent  for  a  while. 

"  You  do  not  want  to  be  with  me  any  more/'  she  said. 

It  startled  him.  How  did  she  know  this  truth?  He 
thought  it  was  his  secret. 

"  Yi,"  he  said. 

"  You  want  to  find  something  else,"  she  said. 

He  did  not  answer.     "  Did  he  ?  "  he  asked  himself. 

"You  should  not  <want  so  much  attention/7  she  said. 
"  You  are  not  a  baby." 

"  Fm  not  grumbling,"  he  said.     Yet  he  knew  he  was. 

"  You  think  you  have  not  enough,"  she  said. 

"How  enough?" 

"  You  think  you  have  not  enough  in  me.  But  how  do  you 
know  me  ?  What  do  you  do  to  make  me  love  you  ?  " 

He  was  flabbergasted. 

"  I  never  said  I  hadn't  enough  in  you,"  he  replied.  "  I 
didn't  know  you  wanted  making  to  love  me.  What  do  you 
want?" 

"  You  don't  make  it  good  between  us  any  more,  you  are  not 
interested.  You  do  not  make  me  want  you." 

"  And  you  don't  make  me  want  you,  do  you  now  ?  "  There 
^as  a  silence.  They  were  such  strangers. 

"  Would  you  like  to  have  another  woman  ?  "  she  asked. 

His  eyes  grew  round,  he  did  not  know  where  he  was.  How 
could  she,  his  own  wife,  say  such  a  thing  ?  But  she  sat  there, 
email  and  foreign  and  separate.  It  dawned  upon  him  she  did 
not  consider  herself  his  wife,  except  in  so  far  as  they  agreed. 
She  did  not  feel  she  had  married  him.  At  any  rate,  she  was 
willing  to  allow  he  might  want  another  woman.  A  gap,  a 
Fpace  opened  before  him. 

"  No,"  he  said  slowly.  "  What  other  woman  should  I 
want?" 

"  Like  your  brother,"  she  said. 

He  was  silent  for  some  time,  ashamed  also. 

"  What  of  her  ?  "  he  said.     "  I  didn't  like  the  woman." 

"  Yes,  you  liked  her/'  she  answered  persistently. 

He  stared  in  wonder  at  his  own  wife  as  she  told  him  his 
own  heart  so  callously.  And  he  was  indignant.  What  right 
had  she  to  sit  there  telling  him  these  things?  She  was  his 
wife,  what  right  had  she  to  speak  to  him  like  this,  as  if  she 
were  a  stranger. 

"  I  didn't,"  he  said.     "  I  want  no  woman." 

"  Yes,  you  would  like  to  be  like  Alfred." 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSKY  85 

His  silence  was  one  of  angry  frustration.  He  was  aston- 
ished. He  had  told  her  of  his  visit  to  Wirksworth,  but  briefly, 
without  interest,  he  thought. 

As  she  sat  with  her  strange  dark  face  turned  towards  him, 
her  eyes  watched  him,  inscrutable,  casting  him  up.  He  began 
to  oppose  her.  She  was  again  the  active  unknown  facing  him. 
Must  he  admit  her  ?  He  resisted  involuntarily. 

"Why  should  you  want  to  find  a  woman  who  is  more  to 
you  than  me  ?  "  she  said. 

The  turbulence  raged  in  his  breast. 

"  I  don't,"  he  said. 

"  Why  do  you  ? "  she  repeated.  "  Why  do  you  want  to 
deny  me  ?  " 

Suddenly,  in  a  flash,  he  saw  she  might  be  lonely,  isolated, 
unsure.  She  had  seemed  to  him  the  utterly  certain,  satisfied/ 
absolute,  excluding  him.  Could  she  need  anything?. 

"  Why  aren't  you  satisfied  with  me  ?  - —  I'm  not  satisfied 
with  you.  Paul  used  to  come  to  me  and  take  me  like  a  man 
does.  You  only  leave  me  alone  or  take  me  like  your  cattle, 
quickly,  to  forget  me  again  —  so  that  you  can  forget  me 
again." 

"  What  am  I  to  remember  about  you  ?  "  said  Brangwen. 

"  I  want  you  to  know  there  is  somebody  there  besides  your^ 
self." 

"Well,  don't  I  know  it?" 

"  You  come  to  me  as  if  it  was  for  nothing,  as  if  I  was  noth- 
ing there.  When  Paul  came  to  me,  I  was  something  to  him  — 
a  woman,  I  was.  To  you  I  am  nothing  —  it  is  like  cattle  — 
or  nothing " 

"  You  make  me  feel  as  if  I  was  nothing,"  he  said. 

They  were  silent.  She  sat  watching  him.  He  could  not 
move,  his  soul  was  seething  and  chaotic.  She  turned  to  her 
sewing  again.  But  the  sight  of  her  bent  before  him  held  him 
and  would  not  let  him  be.  She  was  a  strange,  hostile,  domi- 
nant thing.  Yet  not  quite  hostile.  As  he  sat  he  felt  his 
limbs  were  strong  and  hard,  he  sat  in  strength. 

She  was  silent  for  a  long  time,  stitching.  He  was  aware, 
poignantly,  of  the  round  shape  of  her  head,  very  intimate, 
compelling.  She  lifted  her  head  and  sighed.  The  blood 
burned  in  him,  her  voice  ran  to  him  like  fire. 

"  Come  here/'  she  said,  unsure. 

For  some  moments  he  did  not  move.  Then  he  rose  slowly 
and  went  across  the  hearth.  It  required  an  almost  deathly 


86  THE  RAINBOW 

effort  of  volition,  or  of  acquiescence.  He  stood  before  her 
and  looked  down  at  her.  Her  face  was  shining  again,  her 
eyes  were  shining  again  like  terrible  laughter.  It  was  to  him 
terrible,  how  she  could  be  transfigured.  He  could  not  look  at 
her,  it  burnt  his  heart. 

"  My  love  !  "  she  said. 

And  she  put  her  arms  round  him  as  he  stood  before  her, 
round  his  thighs,  pressing  him  against  her  breast.  And  her 
hands  on  him  seemed  to  reveal  to  him  the  mould  of  his  own 
nakedness,  he  was  passionately  lovely  to  himself.  He  could 
not  bear  to  look  at  her. 

"  My  dear !  "  she  said.  He  knew  she  spoke  a  foreign  lan- 
guage. The  fear  was  like  bliss  in  his  heart.  He  looked  down. 
Her  face  was  shining,  her  eyes  were  full  of  light,  she  was 
awful. .  He  suffered  from  the  compulsion  to  her.  She  was  the 
awful  unknown.  He  bent  down  to  her,  suffering,  unable  to  let 
go,  unable  to  let  himself  go,  yet  drawn,  driven.  She  wa&  now 
the  transfigured,  she  was  wonderful,  beyond  him.  He  wanted 
to  go.  But  he  could  not  as  yet  kiss  her.  He  was  himself 
apart.  Easiest  he  could  kiss  her  feet.  But  he  was  too 
ashamed  for  the  actual  deed,  which  were  like  an  affront.  She 
waited  for  him  to  meet  her,  not  to  bow  before  her  and  serve 
her.  She  wanted  his  active  participation,  not  his  submission. 
She  put  her  fingers  on  him.  And  it  was  torture  to  him,  that  he 
must  give  himself  to  her  actively,  participate  in  her,  that  he 
must  meet  and  embrace  and  know  her,  who  was  other  than 
himself.  There  was  that  in  him  which  shrank  from  yielding 
to  her,  resisted  the  relaxing  towards  her,  opposed  the  mingling 
with  her,  even  whilst  he  most  desired  it.  He  was  afraid,  he 
wanted  tc  save  himself. 

There  were  a  few  moments  of  stillness.  Then  gradually, 
the  tension,  the  withholding  relaxed  in  him,  and  he  began  to 
flow  towards  her.  She  was  beyond  him,  the  unattainable. 
But  he  let  go  his  hold  on  himself,  he  relinquished  himself, 
and  knew  the  subterranean  force  of  his  desire  to  come  to  her, 
to  be  with  her,  to  mingle  with  her,  losing  himself  to  find 
her,  to  find  himself  in  her.  He  began  to  approach  her,  to 
draw  near. 

His  blood  beat  up  in  waves  of  desire.  He  wanted  to  come 
to  her,  to  meet  her.  She  was  there,  if  he  could  reach  her. 
The  reality  of  her  who  was  just  beyond  him  absorbed  him. 
Blind  and  destroyed,  he  pressed  forward,  nearer,  nearer,  to 
receive  the  consummation  of  himself,  be  received  within  the 


CHILDHOOD  OF  ANNA  LENSO  87 

darkness  which  should  swallow  him  and  yield  him  up  to  him- 
self. If  he  could  come  really  within  the  blazing  kernel  of 
darkness,  if  really  he  could  be  destroyed,  burnt  away  till  he 
lit  with  her  in  one  consummation,  that  were  supreme,  supreme. 

Their  coming  together  now,  after  two  years  of  married  life, 
was  much  more  wonderful  to  them  than  it  had  been  before.  It 
was  the  entry  into  another  circle  of  existence,  it  was  the 
baptism  to  another  life,  it  was  the  complete  confirmation. 
Their  feet  trod  strange  ground  of  knowledge,  their  footsteps 
were  lit-up  with  discovery.  Wherever  they  walked,  it  was 
well,  the  world  re-echoed  round  them  in  discovery.  They  went 
gladly  and  forgetful.  Everything  was  lost,  and  everything 
was  found.  The  new  world  was  discovered,  it  remained  only 
to  be  explored. 

They  had  passed  through  the  doorway  into  the  further 
space,  .where  movement  was  so  big,  that  it  contained  bonds 
and  constraints  and  labours,  and  still  was  complete  liberty. 
She  was  the  doorway  to  him,  he  to  her.  At  last  they  had 
thrown  open  the  doors,  each  to  the  other,  and  had  stood  in 
the  doorways  facing  each  other,  whilst  the  light  flooded  out 
from  behind  on  to  each  of  their  faces,  it  was  the  transfigura- 
tion, the  glorification,  the  admission. 

And  always  the  light  of  the  transfiguration  burned  on  in 
their  hearts.  He  went  his  way,  as  before,  she  went  her  way, 
to  the  rest  of  the  world  there  seemed  no  change.  But  to  the 
two  of  them,  there  was  the  perpetual  wonder  of  the  trans- 
figuration. 

He  did  not  know  her  any  better,  any  more  precisely,  now 
that  he  knew  her  altogether.  Poland,  her  husband,  the  war 
—  he  understood  no  more  of  this  in  her.  He  did  not  under- 
stand her  foreign  nature,  half  German,  half  Polish,  nor  her 
foreign  speech.  But  he  knew  her,  he  knew  her  meaning, 
without  understanding.  What  she  said,  what  she  spoke,  this 
was  a  blind  gesture  on  her  part.  In  herself  she  walked  strong 
and  clear,  he  knew  her,  he  saluted  her,  was  with  her.  What 
was  memory  after  all,  but  the  recording  of  a  number  of  possi- 
bilities which  had  never  been  fulfilled?  What  was  Paul 
Lensky  to  her,  but  an  unfulfilled  possibility  to  which  he, 
Brangwen,  was  the  reality  and  the  fulfilment  ?  What  did  it 
matter,  that  Anna  Lensky  was  born  of  Lydia  and  Paul  ?  God 
was  her  father  and  her  mother.  He  had  passed  through  the 
married  pair  without  fully  making  Himself  known  to  them. 

Now  He  was  declared  to  Brangwen  and  to  Lydia  Brang- 


88  THE  RAINBOW 

wen,  as  they  stood  together.  When  at  last  they  had  joined 
hands,  the  house  was  finished,  and  the  Lord  took  up  his  abode. 
And  they  were  glad. 

The  days  went  on  as  before,  Brangwen  went  out  to  his 
work,  his  wife  nursed  her  child  and  attended  in  some  measure 
to  the  farm.  They  did  not  think  of  each  other  —  why  should 
they?  Only  when  she  touched  him,  he  knew  her  instantly, 
that  she  was  with  him,  near  him,  that  she  was  the  gateway 
and  the  way  out,  that  she  was  beyond,  and  that  he  was  travel- 
ling in  her  through  the  beyond.  Whither?  —  What  does  it 
matter?  He  responded  always.  When  she  called,  he  an- 
swered, when  he  asked,  her  response  came  at  once,  or  at  length. 

Anna's  soul  was  put  at  peace  between  them.  She  looked 
from  one  to  the  other,  and  she  saw  them  established  to  her 
safety,  and  she  was  free.  She  played  between  the  pillar  of 
fire  and  the  pillar  of  cloud  in  confidence,  having  the  assurance 
on  her  right  hand  and  the  assurance  on  her  left.  She  was 
no  longer  called  upon  to  uphold  with  her  childish  might  the 
broken  end  of  the  arch.  Her  father  and  her  mother  now  met 
to  the  span  of  the  heavens,  and  she,  the  child,  was  free  to  play 
in  the  space  beneath,  between. 


CHAPTER  IV 

GIRLHOOD   OF   ANNA  BRANGWEN 

WHEN"  Anna  was  nine  years  old,  Brangwen  sent  her 
to   the   dames'   school   in   Cossethay.     There   she 
went,  flipping  and  dancing  in  her  inconsequential 
fashion,  doing  very  much  as  she  liked,  disconcert- 
ing old  Miss  Coates  by  her  indifference  to  respectability  and 
by  her  lack  of  reverence.     Anna  only  laughed  at  Miss  Coates, 
liked  her,  and  patronized  her  in  superb,  childish  fashion. 

The  girl  was  at  once  shy  and  wild.  She  had  a  curious 
contempt  for  ordinary  people,  a  benevolent  superiority.  She 
was  very  shy,  and  tortured  with  misery  when  people  did  not 
like  her.  On  the  other  hand,  she  cared  very  little  for  any- 
body save  her  mother,  whom  she  still  rather  resentfully  wor- 
shipped, and  her  father,  whom  she  loved  and  patronized,  but 
upon  whom  she  depended.  These  two,  her  mother  and  father, 
held  her  still  in  fee.  But  she  was  free  of  other  people, 
towards  whom,  on  the  whole,  she  took  the  benevolent  atti- 
tude. She  deeply  hated  ugliness  or  intrusion  or  arrogance, 
however.  As  a  child,  she  was  as  proud  and  shadowy  as  a 
tiger,  and  as  aloof.  She  could  confer  favours,  but,  save  from 
her  mother  and  father,  she  could  receive  none.  She  hated 
people  who  came  too  near  to  her.  Like  a  wild  thing,  she 
granted  her  distance.  She  mistrusted  intimacy. 

In  Cossethay  and  Ilkeston  she  was  always  an  alien.  She 
had  plenty  of  acquaintances,  but  no  friends.  Very  few  people 
whom  she  met  were  significant  to  her.  They  seemed  part  of 
a  herd,  undistinguished.  She  did  not  take  people  very  seri- 
ously. 

She  had  two  brothers,  Tom,  dark-haired,  small,  volatile, 
whom  she  was  intimately  related  to  but  whom  she  never 
mingled  with,  and  Fred,  fair  and  responsive,  whom  she  adored 
but  did  not  consider  as  a  real,  separate  being.  She  was  too 
much  the  centre  of  her  own  universe,  too  little  aware  of  any- 
thing outside. 

The  first  person  she  met,  who  affected  her  as  a  real,  living 
person,  whom  she  regarded  as  having  definite  existence,  was 

89 


90  THE  RAINBOW 

Baron  Skrebensky,  her  mother's  friend.  He  also  was  a  Polish 
exile,  who  had  taken  orders,  and  had  received  from  Mr.  Glad- 
,  stone  a  small  country  living  in  Yorkshire. 

When  Anna  was  about  ten  years  old,  she  went  with  her 
mother  to  spend  a  few  days  with  the  Baron  Skrebensky.  He 
was  very  unhappy  in  his  red-brick  vicarage.  He  was  vicar 
of  a  country  church,  a  living  worth  a  little  over  two  hundred 
pounds  a  year,  but  he  had  a  large  parish  containing  several 
collieries,  with  a  new,  raw,  heathen  population.  He  went 
to  the  north  of  England  expecting  homage  from  the  common1 
people,  for  he  was  an  aristocrat.  He  was  roughly,  even  cruelly 
received.  But  he  never  understood  it.  He  remained  a  fiery 
aristocrat.  Only  he  had  to  learn  to  avoid  his  parishioners. 

Anna  was  very  much  impressed  by  him.  He  was  a  smallish 
man  with  a  rugged,  rather  crumpled  face  and  blue  eyes  set 
very  deep  and  glowing.  His  wife  was  a  tall  thin  woman,  of 
noble  Polish  family,  mad  with  pride.  He  still  spoke  broken 
English,  for  he  had  kept  very  close  to  his  wife,  both  of  them 
forlorn  in  this  strange,  inhospitable  country,  and  they  always 
spoke  in  Polish  together.  He  was  disappointed  with  Mrs. 
Brangwen's  soft,  natural  English,  very  disappointed  that  her 
child  spoke  no  Polish. 

Anna  loved  to  watch  him.  She  liked  the  big,  new,  rambling 
vicarage,  desolate  and  stark  on  its  hill.  It  was  so  exposed, 
so  bleak  and  bold  after  the  Marsh.  The  Baron  talked  end- 
lessly in  Polish  to  Mrs.  Brangwen ;  he  made  furious  gestures 
with  his  hands,  his  blue  eyes  were  full  of  fire.  And  to  Anna, 
there  was  a  significance  about  his  sharp,  flinging  movements. 
Something  in  her  responded  to  his  extravagance  and  his  ex- 
uberant manner.  She  thought  him  a  very  wonderful  person. 
She  was  shy  of  him,  she  liked  him  to  talk  to  her.  She  felt  a 
sense  of  freedom  near  him. 

She  never  could  tell  how  she  knew  it,  but  she  did  know 
that  he  was  a  knight  of  Malta.  She  could  never  remember 
whether  she  had  seen  his  star,  or  cross,  of  his  order  or  not, 
but  it  flashed  in  her  mind,  like  a  symbol.  He  at  any  rate 
represented  to  the  child  the  real  world,  where  kings  and  lords 
and  princes  moved  and  fulfilled  their  shining  lives,  whilst 
queens  and  ladies  and  princesses  upheld  the  noble  order. 

She  had  recognized  the  Baron  Skrebensky  as  a  real  person, 
he  had  had  some  regard  for  her.  But  when  she  did  not  see 
him  any  more,  he  faded  and  became  a  memory.  But  as  a 
memory  he  was  always  alive  to  ver. 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  91 

Anna  became  a  tall,  awkward  girl.  Her  eyes  were  still  very 
dark  and  quick,  but  they  had  grown  careless,  they  had  lost 
their  watchful; -hostile  look.  Her  fierce,  spun  harr  turned 
brown,  it  grew  heavier  and  was  tied  back.  She  was  sent  to  a 
young  ladies'  school  in  Nottingham. 

And  at  this  period  she  was  absorbed  in  becoming  a  young 
lady.  She  was  intelligent  enough,  but  not  interested  in  learn- 
ing. At  first,  she  thought  all  the  girls  at  school  very  ladylike 
and  wonderful,  and  she  wanted  to  be  like  them.  She  came  to 
a  speedy  disillusion :  they  galled  and  maddened  her,  they  were 
petty  and  mean.  After  the  loose,  generous  atmosphere  of  her 
home,  where  little  things  did  not  count,  she  was  always  uneasy 
in  the  world,  that  would  snap  and  bite  at  every  trifle. 

A  quick  change  came  over  her.  She  mistrusted  herself,  she 
mistrusted  the  outer  world.  She  did  not  want  to  go  on,  she 
did  not  want  to  go  out  into  it,  she  wanted  to  go  no  further. 

"  What  do  I  care  about  that  lot  of  girls  ?  "  she  would  say  to 
her  father,  contemptuously ;  "  they  are  nobody." 

The  trouble  was  that  the  girls  would  not  accept  Anna  at 
her  measure.  They  would  have  her  according  to  themselves 
or  not  at  all.  So  she  was  confused,  seduced,  she  became  as 
they  were  for  a  time,  and  then,  in  revulsion,  she  hated  them 
furiously. 

"  Why  don't  you  ask  some  of  your  girls  here  ?  "  her  father 
would  say. 

"  They're  not  coming  here,"  she  cried. 

"  And  why  not  ?  " 

"They're  bagatelle,"  she  said,  using  one  of  her  mother's 
rare  phrases. 

"Bagatelles  or  billiards,  it  makes  no  matter,  they're  nice 
young  lasses  enough." 

But  Anna  was  not  to  be  won  over.  She  had  a  curious 
shrinking  from  commonplace  people,  and  particularly  from 
the  young  lady  of  her  day.  She  would  not  go  into  company 
because,  of  the  ill-at-ease  feeling  other  people  brought  upon 
her.  And  she  never  could  decide  whether  it  were  her  fault 
or  theirs.  ^  She  half  respected  these  other  people,  and  con- 
tinuous disillusion  maddened  her.  She  wanted  to  respect 
them.  Still  she.  thought  the  people  she  did  not  know  were 
wonderful.  Those  she  knew  seemed  always  to  be  limiting  her, 
tying  her  up  in  little  falsities  that  irritated  her  beyond  bearing. 
She  would  rather  stay  at  home  and  avoid  the  rest  of  the  world, 
leaving  it  illusory. 


92  THE  RAINBOW 

For  at  the  Marsh  life  had  indeed  a  certain  freedom  and 
largeness.  There  was  no  fret  about  money,  no  mean  little 
precedence,  nor  care  for  what  other  people  thought,  because 
neither  Mrs.  Brangwen  nor  Brangwen  could  be  sensible  of  any 
judgment  passed  on  them  from  outside.  Their  lives  were 
too  separate. 

So  Anna  was  only  easy  at  home,  where  the  common  sense 
and  the  supreme  relation  between  her  parents  produced  a 
freer  standard  of  being  than  she  could  find  outside.  Where, 
outside  the  Marsh,  could  she  find  the  tolerant  dignity  she 
had  been  brought  up  in?  Her  parents  stood  undiminished 
and  unaware  of  criticism.  The  people  she  met  outside  seemed 
to  begrudge  her  her  very  existence.  They  seemed  to  want  to 
belittle  her  also.  She  was  exceedingly  reluctant  to  go  amongst 
them.  She  depended  upon  her  mother  and  her  father.  And 
yet  she  wanted  to  go  out. 

At  school,  or  in  the  world,  she  was  usually  at  fault,  she 
felt  usually  that  she  ought  to  be  slinking  in  disgrace.  She 
never  felt  quite  sure,  in  herself,  whether  she  were  wrong,  or 
whether  the  others  were  wrong.  She  had  not  done  her  lessons : 
well,  she  did  not  see  any  reason  why  she  should  do  her  lessons, 
if  she  did  not  want  to.  Was  there  some  occult  reason  why  she 
should?  Were  these  people,  schoolmistresses,  representatives 
of  some  mystic  Eight,  some  Higher  Good?  They  seemed  to 
think  so  themselves.  But  she  could  not  for  her  life  see  why  a 
woman  should  bully  and  insult  her  because  she  did  not  know 
thirty  lines  of  "  As  You  Like  It."  After  all,  what  did  it  mat- 
ter if  she  knew  them  or  not  ?  Nothing  could  persuade  her  that 
it  was  of  the  slightest  importance.  Because  she  despised  in- 
wardly the  coarsely  working  nature  of  the  mistress.  Therefore 
she  was  always  at  outs  with  authority.  From  constant  telling, 
she  came  almost  to  believe  in  her  own  badness,  her  own  intrinsic 
inferiority.  She  felt  that  she  ought  always  to  be  in  a  state  of 
slinking  disgrace,  if  she  fulfilled  what  was  expected  of  her. 
But  she  rebelled.  She  never  really  believed  in  her  own  bad- 
ness. At  the  bottom  of  her  heart  she  despised  the  other  people, 
who  carped  and  were  loud  over  trifles.  She  despised  them, 
and  wanted  revenge  on  them.  She  hated  them  whilst  they  had 
power  over  her. 

Still  she  kept  an  ideal :  a  free,  proud  lady  absolved  from 
the  petty  ties,  existing  beyond  petty  considerations.  She 
would  see  such  ladies  in  pictures :  Alexandra,  Princess  of 
Wales,  was  one  of  'her  models.  This  lady  was  proud  and 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  93 

royal,  and  stepped  indifferently  over  ail  small,  mean  desires : 
so  thought  Anna,  in  her  heart.  And  the  girl  did  up  her  hair 
high  under  a  little  slanting  hat,  her  skirts  were  fashionably 
bunched  up,  she  wore  an  elegant,  skin-fitting  coat. 

Her  father  was  delighted.  Anna  was  very  proud  in  her 
bearing,  too  naturally  indifferent  to  smaller  bonds  to  satisfy 
Ilkeston,  which  would  have  liked  to  put  her  down.  But 
Brangwen  was  having  no  such  thing.  If  she  chose  to  be 
royal,  royal  she  should  be.  He  stood  like  a  rock  between  her 
and  the  world. 

After  the  fashion  of  his  family,  he  grew  stout  and  hand- 
some. His  blue  eyes  were  full  of  light,  twinkling  and  sensi- 
tive, his  manner  was  deliberate,  but  hearty,  warm.  His  capac- 
ity for  living  his  own  life  without  attention  from  his  neigh- 
bours made  them  respect  him.  They  would  run  to  do  anything 
for  him.  He  did  not  consider  them,  but  was  open-handed 
towards  them,  so  they  made  profit  of  their  willingness.  He 
liked  people,  so  long  as  they  remained  in  the  background. 

Mrs.  Brangwen  went  on  in  her  own  way,  following  her  own 
devices.  She  had  her  husband,  her  two  sons  and  Anna. 
These  staked  out  and  marked  her  horizon.  The  other  people 
were  outsiders.  Inside  her  own  world,  her  life  passed  along 
like  a  dream  for  her,  it  lapsed,  and  she  lived  within  its  lapse, 
active  and  always  pleased,  intent.  She  scarcely  noticed  the 
outer  things  at  all.  What  was  outside  was  outside,  non- 
existent. She  did  not  mind  if  the  boys  fought,  so  long  as  it 
was  out  of  her  presence.  But  if  they  fought  when  she  was  by, 
she  was  angry,  and  they  were  afraid  of  her.  She  did  not  care 
if  they  broke  a  window  of  a  railway  carriage  or  sold  their 
watches  to  have  a  revel  at  the  Goose  Fair.  Brangwen  was  per- 
haps angry  over  these  things.  To  the  mother  they  were  in- 
significant. It  was  odd  little  things  that  offended  her.  She 
was  furious  if  the  boys  hung  round  the  slaughter-house,  she  was 
displeased  when  the  school  reports  were  bad.  It  did  not  mat- 
ter how  many  sins  her  boys  were  accused  of,  so  long  as  they 
were  not  stupid,  or  inferior.  If  they  seemed  to  brook  insult, 
she  hated  them.  And  it  was  only  a  certain  gaucherie,  a  gawki- 
ness  on  Anna's  part  that  irritated  her  against  the  girl.  Cer- 
tain forms  of  clumsiness,  grossness,  made  the  mother's  eyes 
glow  with  curious  rage.  Otherwise  she  was  pleased,  indif- 
ferent. 

Pursuing  her  splendid-lady  ideal,  Anna  became  a  lofty 
demoiselle  of  sixteen,  plagued  by  family  shortcomings.  She 


94  THE  RAINBOW 

was  very  sensitive  to  her  father.  She  knew  if  he  had  been 
drinking,  were  he  ever  so  little  affected,  and  she  could  not 
bear  it.  He  flushed  when  he  drank,  the  veins  stood  out  on 
his  temples,  there  was  a  twinkling,  cavalier  boisterousness  in 
his  eyes,  his  manner  was  jovially  overbearing  and  mocking. 
And  it  angered  her.  When  she  heard  his  loud,  roaring,  bois- 
terous mockery,  an  anger  of  resentment  filled  her.  She  waa 
quick  to  forestall  him,  the  moment  he  came  in. 

"  You  look  a  sight,  you  do,  red  in  the  face,"  she  cried. 

"  I  might  look  worse  if  I  was  green,"  he  answered. 

"  Boozing  in  Ilkeston." 

"  And  what's  wrong  wi'  Il'son  ?  " 

She  flounced  away.  He  watched  her  with  amused,  twin- 
kling eyes,  yet  in  spite  of  himself  said  that  she  flouted  him. 

They  were  a  curious  family,  a  law  to  themselves,  separate 
from  the  world,  isolated,  a  small  republic  set  in  invisible 
bounds.  The  mother  was  quite  indifferent  to  Ilkeston  and 
Cossethay,  to  any  claims  made  on  her  from  outside,  she  was 
very  shy  of  any  outsider,  exceedingly  courteous,  winning  even. 
But  the  moment  a  visitor  had  gone,  she  laughed  and  dis- 
missed him,  he  did  not  exist.  It  had  been  all  a  game  to 
her.  She  was  still  a  foreigner,  unsure  of  her  ground.  But 
alone  with  her  own  children  and  husband  at  the  Marsh,  she 
was  mistress  of  a  little  native  land  that  lacked  nothing. 

She  had  some  beliefs  somewhere,  never  defined.  She  had 
been  brought  up  a  Roman  Catholic.  She  had  gone  to  the 
Church  of  England  for  protection.  The  outward  form  was 
a  matter  of  indifference  to  her.  Yet  she  had  some  funda- 
mental religion.  It  was  as  if  she  worshipped  God  as  a  mys- 
tery, never  seeking  in  the  least  to  define  what  He  was. 

And  inside  her,  the  subtle  sense  of  the  Great  Absolute 
wherein  she  had  her  being  was  very  strong.  The  English 
dogma  never  reached  her:  the  language  was  too  foreign. 
Through  it  all  she  felt  the  great  Separator  who  held  life  in 
His  hands,  gleaming,  imminent,  terrible,  the  Great  Mystery, 
immediate  beyond  all  telling. 

She  shone  and  gleamed  to  the  Mystery,  Whom  she  knew 
through  all  her  senses,  she  glanced  with  strange,  mystic 
superstitions  that  never  found  expression  in  the  English  lan- 
guage, never  mounted  to  thought  in  English.  But  so  she 
lived,  within  a  potent,  sensuous  belief  that  included  her  family 
and  contained  her  destiny. 

To  this  she  had  reduced  her  husband.     He  existed  with 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  95 

her  entirely  indifferent  to  the  general  values  of  the  world. 
Her  very  ways,  the  very  mark  of  her  eyebrows  were  symbols 
and  indication  to  him.  There,  on  the  farm  with  her,  he  lived 
through  a  mystery  of  life  and  death  and  creation,  strange, 
profound  ecstasies  and  incommunicable  satisfactions,  of  which 
the  rest  of  the  world  knew  nothing;  which  made  the  pair  of 
them  apart  and  respected  in  the  English  village,  for  they  were 
also  well-to-do. 

But  Anna  was  only  half  safe  within  her  mother's  unthinking 
knowledge.  She  had  a  mother-of-pearl  rosary  that  had  been 
her  own  father's.  What  it  meant  to  her  she  could  never  say. 
But  the  string  of  moonlight  and  silver,  when  she  had  it  be- 
tween her  fingers,  filled  her  with  strange  passion.  She  learned 
at  school  a  little  Latin,  she  learned  an  Ave  Maria  and  a  Pater 
Noster,  she  learned  how  to  say  her  rosary.  But  that  was  no 
good.  "  Ave  Maria,  gratia  plena,  Dominus  tecum,  Benedicta 
tu  in  mulieribus  et  benedictus  fructus  ventris  tui  Jesus.  Ave 
Maria,  Sancta  Maria,  ora  pro  nobis  peccatoribus,  nunc  et  in 
hora  mortis  nostrae,  Amen." 

It  was  not  right,  somehow.  What  these  words  meant  when 
translated  was  not  the  same  as  the  pale  rosary  meant.  There 
was  a  discrepancy,  a  falsehood.  It  irritated  her  to  say, 
"  Dominus  tecum,"  or,  "  benedicta  tu  in  mulieribus."  She 
loved  the  mystic  words;  "  'Ave  Maria,  Sancta  Maria ; "  she  was 
moved  by  "benedictus  fructus  ventris  tui  Jesus,"  and  by 
"  nunc  et  in  hora  mortis  nostrae."  But  none  of  it  was  quite 
real.  It  was  nut  satisfactory,  somehow. 

She  avoided  her  rosary,  because,  moving  her  with  curious 
passion  as  it  did,  it  meant  only  these  not  very  significant 
things.  She  put  it  away;  It  was  her  instinct  to  put  all  these 
things  away.  It  was  her  instinct  to  avoid  thinking,  to  avoid 
it,  to  save  herself. 

She  was  seventeen,  touchy,  full  of  spirits,  and  very  moody : 
quick  to  flush,  and  always  uneasy,  uncertain.  For  some  reason 
or  other,  she  turned  more  to  her  father,  she  felt  almost  flashes 
of  hatred  for  her  mother.  Her  mother's  dark  muzzle  and 
curiously  insidious  ways,  her  mother's  utter  surety  and  confi- 
dence, her  strange  satisfaction,  even  triumph,  her  mother's 
way  of  laughing  at  things  and  her  mother's  silent  overriding  of 
vexatious  propositions,  most  of  all  her  mother's  triumphant 
power  maddened  the  girl. 

She  became  sudden  and  incalculable.  Often  she  stood  at  the 
window,  looking  out,  as  if  she  wanted  to  go.  Sometimes  she 


96  THE  RAINBOW 

went,  she  mixed  with  people.  But  always  she  came  home  in 
anger,  as  if  she  were  diminished,  belittled,  almost  degraded. 

There  was  over  the  house  a  kind  of  dark  silence  and  in- 
tensity, in  which  passion  worked  its  inevitable  conclusions. 
There  was  in  the  house  a  sort  of  richness,  a  deep,  inarticulate 
interchange  which  made  other  places  seem  thin  and  unsatisfy- 
ing. Brangwen  could  sit  silent,  smoking  in  his  chair,  the 
mother  could  move  about  in  her  quiet,  insidious  way,  and  the 
sense  of  the  two  presences  was  powerful,  sustaining.  The 
whole  intercourse  was  wordless,  intense  and  close. 

But  Anna  was  uneasy.  She  wanted  to  get  away.  Yet 
wherever  she  went,  there  came  upon  her  that  feeling  of  thin- 
ness, as  if  she  were  made  smaller,  belittled.  She  hastened 
home. 

There  she  raged  and  interrupted  the  strong,  settled  inter- 
change. Sometimes  her  mother  turned  on  her  with  a  fierce, 
destructive  anger,  in  which  was  no  pity  or  consideration.  And 
Anna  shrank,  afraid.  She  went  to  her  father. 

He  would  still  listen  to  the  spoken  word,  which  fell  sterile 
on  the  unheeding  mother.  Sometimes  Anna  talked  to  her 
father.  She  tried  to  discuss  people,  she  wanted  to  know 
what  was  meant.  But  her  father  became  uneasy.  He  did 
not  want  to  have  things  dragged  into  consciousness.  Only 
out  of  consideration  for  her  he  listened.  And  there  was  a 
kind  of  bristling  rousedness  in  the  room.  The  cat  got  up  and 
stretching  itself,  went  uneasily  to  the  door.  Mrs.  Brangwen 
was  silent,  she  seemed  ominous.  Anna  could  not  go  on  with 
her  fault-finding,  her  criticism,  her  expression  of  dissatisfac- 
tions. She  felt  even  her  father  against  her.  He  had  a  strong, 
dark  bond  with  her  mother,  a  potent  intimacy  that  existed  in- 
articulate and  wild,  following  its  own  course,  and  savage  if 
interrupted,  uncovered. 

Nevertheless  Brangwen  was  uneasy  about  the  girl,  the  whole 
house  continued  to  be  disturbed.  She  had  a  pathetic,  baffled 
appeal.  She  was  hostile  to  her  parents,  even  whilst  she  lived 
entirely  with  them,  within  their  spell. 

Many  ways  she  tried,  of  escape.  She  became  an  assiduous 
church-goer.  But  the  language  meant  nothing  to  her:  it 
seemed  false.  She  hated  to  hear  things  expressed,  put  into 
words.  Whilst  the  religious  feelings  were  inside  her  they 
were  passionately  moving.  In  the  mouth  of  the  clergyman, 
they  were  false,  indecent.  She  tried  to  read.  But  again 
the  •tedium  and  the  sense  of  the  falsity  of  the  spoken  word 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  97 

put  her  off.  She  went  to  stay  with  girl  friends.  At  first 
she  thought  it  splendid.  But  then  the  inner  boredom  came 
on,  it  seemed  to  her  all  nothingness.  And  she  felt  always 
belittled,  as  if  never,  never  could  she  stretch  her  length  and 
stride  her  stride. 

Her  mind  reverted  often  to  the  torture  cell  of  a  certain 
Bishop  of  France,  in  which  the  victim  could  neither  stand 
nor  lie  stretched  out,  never.  Not  that  she  thought  of  herself 
in  any  connection  with  this.  But  often  there  came  into  her 
mind  the  wonder,  how  the  cell  was  built,  and  she  could  feel 
the  horror  of  the  crampedness,  as  something  very  real. 

She  was,  however,  only  eighteen  when  a  letter  came  from 
Mrs.  Alfred  Brangwen,  in  Nottingham,  saying  that  her  son 
William  was  coming  to  Ilkeston  to  take  a  place  as  junior 
draughtsman,  scarcely  more  than  apprentice,  in  a  lace  factory. 
He  was  twenty  years  old,  and  would  the  Marsh  Brangwens  be 
friendly  with  him. 

Tom  Brangwen  at  once  wrote  offering  the  young  man  a 
home  at  the  Marsh.  This  was  not  accepted,  but  the  Notting- 
ham Brangwens  expressed  gratitude. 

There  had  never  been  much  love  lost  between  the  Notting- 
ham Brangwens  and  the  Marsh.  Indeed,  Mrs.  Alfred,  having 
inherited  three  thousand  pounds,  and  having  occasion  to  be 
dissatisfied  with  her  husband,  held  aloof  from  all  the  Brang- 
wens whatsoever.  She  affected,  however,  some  esteem  of  Mrs. 
Tom,  as  she  called  the  Polish  woman,  saying  that  at  any  rate 
she  was  a  lady. 

Anna  Brangwen  was  faintly  excited  at  the  news  of  her 
Cousin  Will's  coming  to  Ilkeston.  She  knew  plenty  of  young 
men,  but  they  had  never  become  real  to  her.  She  had  seen  in 
this  young  gallant  a  nose  she  liked,  in  that  a  pleasant  mous- 
tache, in  the  other  a  nice  way  of  wearing  clothes,  in  one  a 
ridiculous  fringe  of  hair,  in  another  a  comical  way  of  talking. 
They  were  objects  of  amusement  and  faint  wonder  to  her, 
rather  than  real  beings,  the  young  men. 

The  only  man  she  knew  was  her  father ;  and,  as  he  was  some- 
thing large,  looming,  a  kind  of  Godhead,  he  embraced  all  man- 
hood for  her,  and  other  men  were  just  incidental. 

She  remembered  her  cousin  Will.  He  had  town  clothes  and 
was  thin,  with  a  very  curious  head,  black  as  jet,  with  hair  like 
sleek,  thin  fur.  It  was  a  curious  head :  it  reminded  her  she 
knew  not  of  what:  of  some  animal,  some  mysterious  animal 
that  lived  in  the  darkness  under  the  leaves  and  never  came  out, 


98  THE  RAINBOW 

but  which  lived  vividly,  swift  and  intense.  She  always  thought 
of  him  with  that  black,  keen,  blind  head.  And  she  considered 
him  odd. 

He  appeared  at  the  Marsh  one  Sunday  morning:  a  rather 
long,  thin  youth  with  a  bright  face  and  a  curious  self-possession 
among  his  shyness,  a  native  unawareness  of  what  other  people 
might  be,  since  he  was  himself. 

When  Anna  came  downstairs  in  her  Sunday  clothes,  ready 
for  church,  he  rose  and  greeted  her  conventionally,  shaking 
hands.  His  manners  were  better  than  hers.  She  flushed. 
She  noticed  that  he  now  had  a  black  fledge  on  his  upper  lip,  a 
black,  finely-shapen  line  marking  his  wide  mouth.  It  rather 
repelled  her.  It  reminded  her  of  the  thin,  fine  fur  of  his  hair. 
She  was  aware  of  something  strange  in  him. 

His  voice  had  rather  high  upper  notes,  and  very  resonant 
middle  notes.  It  was  queer.  She  wondered  why  he  did  it. 
But  he  sat  very  naturally  in  the  Marsh  living-room.  He  had 
some  uncouthness,  some  natural  self-possession  of  the  Brang- 
wens,  that  made  him  at  home  there. 

Anna  was  rather  troubled  by  the  strangely  intimate,  affec- 
tionate way  her  father  had  towards  this  young  man.  He 
seemed  gentle  towards  him,  he  put  himself  aside  in  order  to 
fill  out  the  young  man.  This  irritated  Anna. 

"  Father,"  she  said  abruptly,  "  give  me  some  collection." 

"What  collection?"  asked  Brangwen. 

"  Don't  be  ridiculous,"  she  cried,  flushing. 

"  Nay,"  he  said,  "  what  collection's  this  ?  " 

"  You  know  it's  the  first  Sunday  of  the  month." 

Anna  stood  confused.  Why  was  he  doing  this,  why  was  he 
making  her  conspicuous  before  this  stranger ! 

"  I  want  some  collection,"  she  reasserted. 

"  So  tha  says,"  he  replied  indifferently,  looking  at  her,  then 
turning  again  to  his  nephew. 

She  went  forward,  and  thrust  her  hand  into  his  breeches 
pocket.  He  smoked  stolidly,  making  no  resistance,  talking  to 
his  nephew.  Her  hand  groped  about  in  his  pocket,  and  then 
drew  out  his  leathern  purse.  Her  colour  was  bright  in  her 
clear  cheeks,  her  eyes  shone.  Brangwen's  eyes  were  twin- 
kling. The  nephew  sat  sheepishly.  Anna,  in  her  finery,  sat 
down  and  slid  all  the  money  into  her  lap.  There  was  silver 
and  gold.  The  youth  could  not  help  watching  her.  She  was 
bent  over  the  heap  of  money,  fingering  the  different  coins. 

"  I've  a  good  mind  to  take  half-a-sovereign,"  she  said,  and 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  99 

she  looked  up  with  glowing  dark  eyes.  She  met  the  light- 
brown  eyes  of  her  cousin,  close  and  intent  upon  her.  She 
was  startled.  She  laughed  quickly,  and  turned  to  her  father. 

"  Fve  a  good  mind  to  take  half-a-sovereign,  our  Dad,"  she 
said. 

"  Yes,  nimble  fingers,"  said  her  father.  "  You  take  what's 
your  own." 

"Are  you  coming,  our  Anna?"  asked  her  brother  from 
the  door. 

She  suddenly  chilled  to  normal,  forgetting  both  her  father 
arid  her  cousin. 

"  Yes,  I'm  ready,"  she  said,  taking  sixpence  from  the  heap 
of  money  and  sliding  the  rest  back  into  the  purse,  which  she 
laid  on  the  table. 

"  Give  it  here,"  said  her  father. 

Hastily  she  thrust  the  purse  into  his  pocket  and  was  going 
out. 

"  You'd  better  go  wi'  'em,  lad,  hadn't  you?-"  said  the  father 
to  the  nephew. 

Will  Brangwen  rose  uncertainly.  He  had  golden-brown, 
quick,  steady  eyes,  like  a  bird's,  like  a  hawk's,  which  cannot 
look  afraid. 

"  Your  Cousin  Will  ?11  come  with  you,"  said  the  father. 

Anna  glanced  at  the  strange  youth  again.  She  felt  him 
waiting  there  for  her  to  notice  him.  He  was  hovering  on 
the  edge  of  her  consciousness,  ready  to  come  in.  She  did 
not  want  to  look  at  him.  She  was  antagonistic  to  him. 

She  waited  without  speaking.  Her  cousin  took  h\s  hat 
and  joined  her.  It  was  summer  outside.  Her  brother  Fred 
was  plucking  a  sprig  of  flowering  currant  to  put  in  his  coat, 
from  the  bush  at  the  angle  of  the  house.  She  took  no  notice. 
Her  cousin  followed  just  behind  her. 

They  were  on  the  highroad.  She  was  aware  of  a  strange- 
ness in  her  being.  It  made  her  uncertain.  She  caught  sight 
of  the  flowering  currant  in  her  brother's  buttonhole. 

"  Oh,  our  Fred,"  she  cried.  "  Don't  wear  that  stuff  to  go 
to  church." 

Fred  looked  down  protectively  at  the  pink  adornment  on 
his  breast.  - 

"Why,  I  like  it,"  he  said. 

"  Then  you're  the  only  one  who  does,  I'm  sure,"  she  said. 

And  she  turned  to  her  cousin. 

"  Do  you  like  the  smell  of  it  ?  "  she  asked. 


100  THE  RAINBOW 

He  was  there  beside  her,  tall  and  uncouth  and  yet  self- 
possessed.  It  excited  her. 

"  I  can't  say  whether  I  do  or  not,"  he  replied. 

"  Give  it  here,  Fred,  don't  have  it  smelling  in  church," 
she  said  to  the  little  boy,  her  page. 

Her  fair,  small  brother  handed  her  the  flower  dutifully. 
She  sniffed  it  and  gave  it  without  a  word  to  her  cousin,  for 
his  judgment.  He  smelled  the  dangling  flower  curiously. 

"  It's  a  funny  smell,"  he  said. 

And  suddenly  she  laughed,  and  a  quick  light  came  on  all 
their  faces,  there  was  a  blithe  trip  in  the  small  boy's  walk. 

The  bells  were  ringing,  they  were  going  up  the  summery 
hill  in  their  Sunday  clothes.  Anna  was  very  fine  in  a  silk 
frock  of  brown  and  white  stripes,  tight  along  the  arms  and 
the  body,  bunched  up  very  elegantly  behind  the  skirt.  There 
was  something  of  the  cavalier  about  Will  B^angwen,  and  he 
was  well  dressed. 

He  walked  along  with  the  sprig  of  currant-blossom  dangling 
between  his  fingers,  and  none  of  them  spoke.  The  sun  shone 
brightly  on  little  showers  of  buttercup  down  the  bank,  in  the 
fields  the  fool's-parsley  was  foamy,  held  very  high  and  proud 
above  a  number  of  flowers  that  flitted  in  the  greenish  twilight 
of  the  mowing-grass  below. 

They  reached  the  church.  Fred  led  the  way  to  the  pew, 
followed  by  the  cousin,  then  Anna.  She  felt  very  conspicuous 
and  important.  Somehow,  this  young  man  gave  her  away 
to  other  people.  He  stood  aside  and  let  her  pass  to  her  place, 
then  sat  next  to  her.  It  was  a  curious  sensation,  to  sit  next 
to  him. 

The  colour  came  streaming  from  the  painted  window  above 
her.  It  lit  on  the  dark  wood  of  the  pew,  on-  the  stone,  worn 
aisle,  on  the  pillar  behind  her  cousin,  and  on  her  cousin's 
hands,  as  they  lay  on  his  knees.  She  sat  amid  illumination, 
illumination  and  luminous  shadow  all  around  her,  her  soul 
very  bright.  She  sat,  without  knowing  it,  conscious  of  the 
hands  and  motionless  knees  of  her  cousin.  Something  strange 
had  entered  into  her  world,  something  entirely  strange  and 
unlike  what  she  knew. 

She  was  curiously  elated.  She  sat  in  a  glowing  world  of 
unreality,  very  delightful.  A  brooding  light,  like  laughter, 
was  in  her  eyes.  She  was  aware  of  a  strange  influence  enter- 
ing in  to  her,  which  she  enjoyed.  It  was  a  dark  enrichening 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA.BRANGWEN  101 

influence  she  had  not  known  before.  She  did  not  think  of 
her  cousin.  But  she  was  startled  when  his  hands  moved. 

She  wished  he  would  not  say  the  responses  so  plainly.  It 
diverted  her  from  her  vague  enjoyment.  Why  would  he 
obtrude,  and  draw  notice  to  himself?  It  was  bad  taste. 
But  she  went  on  all  right  till  the  hymn  came.  He  stood  up 
beside  her  to  sing,  and  that  pleased  her.  Then  suddenly,  at 
the  very  first  word,  his  voice  came  strong  and  over-riding, 
filling  the  church.  He  was  singing  the  tenor.  Her  soul 
opened  in  amazement.  His  voice  filled  the  church !  It  rang 
out  like  a  trumpet,  and  rang  out  again.  She  started  to  giggle 
over  her  hymn-book.  But  he  went  on,  perfectly  steady.  Up 
and  down  rang  his  voice,  going  its  own  way.  She  was  help- 
lessly shocked  into  laughter.  Between  moments  of  dead  si- 
lence in  herself  she  shook  with  laughter.  On  came  the  laugh- 
ter, seized  her  and  shook  her  till  the  tears  were  in  her  eyes. 
She  was  amazed,  and  rather  enjoyed  it.  And  still  the  hymn 
rolled  on,  and  still  she  laughed.  She  bent  over  her  hymn- 
book  crimson  with  confusion,  but  still  her  sides  shook  with 
laughter.  She  pretended  to  cough,  she  pretended  to  have  a 
crumb  in  her  throat.  Fred  was  gazing  up  at  her  with  clear 
blue  eyes.  She  was  recovering  herself.  And  then  a  slur  in 
the  strong,  blind  voice  at  her  side  brought  it  all  on  again,  in  a 
gust  of  mad  laughter. 

She  bent  down  to  prayer  in  cold  reproof  of  herself.  And 
yet,  as  she  knelt,  little  eddies  of  giggling  went  over  her.  The 
very  sight  of  his  knees  on  the  praying  cushion  sent  the  little 
shock  of  laughter  over  her. 

She  gathered  herself  together  and  sat  with  prim,  pure  face, 
white  and  pink  and  cold  as  a  Christmas  rose,  her  hands  in 
her  silk  gloves  folded  on  her  lap,  her  dark  eyes  all  vague, 
abstracted  in  a  sort  of  dream,  oblivious  of  everything. 

The  sermon  rolled  on  vaguely,  in  a  tide  of  pregnant  peace. 

Her  cousin  took  out  his  pocket-handkerchief.  He  seemed 
to  be  drifted  absorbed  into  the  sermon.  He  put  his  hand- 
kerchief to  his  face.  Then  something  dropped  on  to  his 
knee.  There  lay  the  bit  of  flowering  currant !  He  was  look- 
ing down  at  it  in  real  astonishment.  A  wild  snirt  of  laughter 
came  from  Anna.  Everybody  heard :  it  was  torture.  He  had 
shut  the  crumpled  flower  in  his  hand  and  was  looking  up  again 
with  the  same  absorbed  attention  to  the  sermon.  Another 
snirt  of  laughter  from  Anna.  Fred  nudged  her  remindingly. 


102  THE  RAINBOW 

Her  cousin  sat  motionless.  Somehow  she  was  aware  that  his 
face  was  red.  She  could  feel  him.  His  hand,  closed  over 
the  flower,  remained  quite  still,  pretending  to  be  normal. 
Another  wild  struggle  in  Anna's  breast,  and  the  snirt  of 
laughter.  She  bent  forward  shaking  with  laughter.  It  was 
now  no  joke.  Fred  was  nudge-nudging  at  her.  She  nudged 
him  back  fiercely.  Then  another  vicious  spasm  of  laughter 
seized  her.  She  tried  to  ward  it  off  in  a  little  cough.  The 
cough  ended  in  a  suppressed  whoop.  She  wanted  to  die. 
And  the  closed  hand  crept  away  to  the  pocket.  Whilst  she  sat 
in  taut  suspense,  the  laughter  rushed  back  at  her,  knowing  he 
was  fumbling  in  his  pocket  to  shove  the  flower  away. 

In  the  end,  she  felt  weak,  exhausted  and  thoroughly  de- 
pressed. A  blankness  of  wincing  depression  came  over  her. 
She  hated  the  presence  of  the  other  people.  Her  face  became 
quite  haughty.  She  was  unaware  of  her  cousin  any  more. 

When  the  collection  arrived  with  the  last  hymn,  her  cousin 
was  again  singing  resoundingly.  And  still  it  amused  her. 
In  spite  of  the  shameful  exhibition  she  had  made  of  herself,  it 
amused  her  still.  She  listened  to  it  in  a  spell  of  amusement. 
And  the  bag  was  thrust  in  front  of  her,  and  her  sixpence  was 
mingled  in  the  folds  of  her  glove.  In  her  haste  to  get  it  out, 
it  flipped  away  and  went  twinkling  in  the  next  pew.  She 
stood  and  giggled.  She  could  not  help  it:  she  laughed  out- 
right, a  figure  of  shame. 

"  What  were  you  laughing  about,  our  Anna  ?  "  asked  Fred, 
the  moment  they  were  out  of  the  church. 

"  Oh,  I  couldn't  help  it,"  she  said,  in  her  careless,  half- 
mocking  fashion.  "  I  don't  know  why  Cousin  Will's  singing 
set  me  off." 

"  What  was  there  in  my  singing  to  make  you  laugh  ?  "  he 
"asked. 

"  It  was  so  loud,"  she  said. 

They  did  not  look  at  each  other,  but  they  both  laughed 
Hgain,  both  reddening. 

"What  were  you  snorting  and  laughing  for,  our  Anna?" 
asked  Tom,  the  elder  brother,  at  the  dinner  table,  his  hazel 
eyes  bright  with  joy.  "  Everybody  stopped  to  look  at  you." 
Tom  was  in  the  choir. 

She  was  aware  of  Will's  eyes  shining  steadily  upon  her, 
waiting  for  her  to  speak. 

"  It  was  Cousin  Will's  singing,"  she  said. 

At  which  her  cousin  burst  into  a  suppressed,  chuckling 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  3RANGWEN  103 

laugh,  suddenly  showing  all  his  small,  regular,  rather  sharp 
teeth,  and  just  as  quickly,  closing  his  mouth  again. 

"  Has  he  got  such  a  remarkable  voice  on  him  then  ?  "  asked 
Brangwen. 

"  No,  it's  not  that,"  said  Anna.  «  Only  it  tickled  me  —  I 
couldn't  tell  you  why." 

And  again  a  ripple  of  laughter  went  down  the  table. 

Will  Brangwen  thrust  forward  his  dark  face,  his  eyes 
dancing,  and  said : 

"  I'm  in  the  choir  of  St.  Nicholas." 

"  Oh,  you  go  to  church  then !  "  said  Brangwen. 

"  Mother  does  —  father  doesn't,"  replied  the  youth. 

It  was  the  little  things,  his  movement,  the  funny  tones  of 
his  voice,  that  showed  up  .big  to  Anna.  The  matter-of-fact 
things  he  said  were  absurd  in  contrast.  The  things  her  father 
said  seemed  meaningless  and  neutral. 

During  the  afternoon  they  sat  in  the  parlour,  that  smelled 
of  geranium,  and  they  ate  cherries,  and  talked.  Will  Brang- 
wen was  called  on  to  give  himself  forth.  And  soon  he  was 
drawn  out. 

He  was  interested  in  churches,  in  church  architecture.  The 
influence  of  Euskin  had  stimulated  him  to  a  pleasure  in  the 
mediaeval  forms.  His  talk  was  fragmentary,  he  was  only  half 
articulate.  But  listening  to  him,  as  he  spoke  of  church  after 
church,  of  nave  and  chancel  and  transept,  of  rood-screen  and 
font,  of  hatchet-carving  and  moulding  and  tracery,  speaking 
always  with  close  passion  of  particular  things,  particular 
places,  there  gathered  in  her  heart  a  pregnant  hush  of  churches, 
a  mystery,  a  ponderous  significance  of  bowed  stone,  a  dim- 
coloured  light  through  which  something  took  place  obscurely, 
passing  into  darkness:  a  high,  delighted  framework  of  the 
mystic  screen,  and  beyond,  in  the  furthest  beyond,  the  altar. 
It  was  a  very  real  experience.  She  was  carried  away.  And 
the  land  seemed  to  be  covered  with  a  vast,  mystic  church,  re- 
served in  gloom,  thrilled  with  an  unknown  Presence. 

Almost  it  hurt  her,  to  look  out  of  the  window  and  see  the 
lilacs  towering  in  the  vivid  sunshine.  Or  was  this  the  iewelled 
glass? 

He  talked  of  Gothic  and  Renaissance  and  Perpendicular, 
and  Early  English  and  Norman.  The  words  thrilled  her. 

"Have  you  been  to  Southwell?"  he  said.  "I  was  there 
at  twelve  o'clock  at  midday,  eating  my  lunch  in  the  church- 
yard. And  the  bells  played  a  hymn. 


104  THE  RAINBOW 

"  Ay,  it's  a  fine  Minster,  Southwell,  heavy.  It's  got  heavy, 
round  arches,  rather  low,  on  thick  pillars.  It's  grand,  the  way 
those  arches  travel  forward. 

"  There's  a  sedilia  as  well  —  pretty.  But  I  like  the  main 
body  of  the  church  —  and  that  north  porch 

He  was  very  much  excited  and  filled  with  himself  that  after- 
noon. A  flame  kindled  round  him,  making  his  experience 
passionate  and  glowing,  burningly  real. 

His  uncle  listened  with  twinkling  eyes,  half-moved.  His 
aunt  bent  forward  her  dark  face,  half-moved,  but  held  by 
other  knowledge.  Anna  went  with  him. 

He  returned  to  his  lodging  at  night  treading  quick,  his  eyes 
glittering,  and  his  face  shining  darkly  as  if  he  came  from  some 
passionate,  vital  tryst. 

The  glow  remained  in  him,  the  fire  burned,  his  heart  was 
fierce  like  a  sun.  He  enjoyed  his  unknown  life  and  his  own 
self.  And  he  was  ready  to  go  back  to  the  Marsh. 

Without  knowing  it,  Anna  was  wanting  him  to  come.  In 
him  she  had  escaped.  In  him  the  bounds  of  her  experience 
were  transgressed :  he  was  the  hole  in  the  wall,  beyond  which 
the  sunshine  blazed  on  an  outside  world. 

He  came.  Sometimes,  not  often,  but  sometimes,  talking 
again,  there  recurred  the  strange,  remote  reality  which  carried 
everything  before  it.  Sometimes,  he  talked  of  his  father, 
whom  he  hated  with  a  hatred  that  was  burningly  close  to  love, 
of  his  mother,  whom  he  loved,  with  a  love  that  was  keenly  close 
to  hatred,  or  to  revolt.  His  sentences  were  clumsy,  he  was 
only  half  articulate.  But  he  had  the  wonderful  voice,  that 
could  ring  its  vibration  through  the  girl's  soul,  transport  her 
into  his  feeling.  Sometimes  his  voice  was  hot  and  declama- 
tory, sometimes  it  had  a  strange,  twanging,  almost  catlike 
sound,  sometimes  it  hesitated,  puzzled,  sometimes  there  was 
the  break  of  a  little  laugh.  Anna  was  taken  by  him.  She 
loved  the  running  flame  that  coursed  through  her  as  she  lis- 
tened to  him.  And  his  mother  and  his  father  became  to  her 
two  separate  people  in  her  life. 

For  some  weeks  the  youth  came  frequently,  and  was  re- 
ceived gladly  by  them  all.  He  sat  amongst  them,  his  dark 
face  glowing,  an  eagerness  and  a  touch  of  derisiveness  on  his 
wide  mouth,  something  grinning  and  twisted,  his  eyes  always 
shining  like  a  bird's,  utterly  without  depth.  There  was  no 
getting  hold  of  the  fellow,  Brangwen  irritably  thought.  He 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  105 

was  like  a  grinning  young  tom-cat,  that  came  when  he  thought 
he  would,  and  without  cognizance  of  the  other  person. 

At  first  the  youth  had  looked  towards  Tom  Brangwen  when 
he  talked ;  and  then  he  looked  towards  his  aunt,  for  her  appre- 
ciation, valuing  it  more  than  his  uncle's ;  and  then  he  turned 
to  Anna,  because  from  her  he  got  what  he  wanted,  which  was 
not  in  the  elder  people. 

So  that  the  two  young  people,  from  being  always  attendant 
on  the  elder,  began  to  draw  apart  and  establish  a  separate 
kingdom.  Sometimes  Tom  Brangwen  was  irritated.  His 
nephew  irritated  him.  The  lad  seemed  to  him  too  special,  self- 
contained.  His  nature  was  fierce  enough,  but  too  much  ab- 
stracted, like  a  separate  thing-,  like  a  cat's  nature.  A  cat  could 
lie  perfectly  peacefully  on  the  hearthrug  whilst  its  master  or 
mistress  writhed  in  agony  a  yard  away.  It  had  nothing  to  do 
with  other  people's  affairs.  What  did  the  lad  really  care 
about  anything,  save  his  own  instinctive  affairs? 

Brangwen  was  irritated.  Nevertheless  he  liked  and  re- 
spected his  nephew.  Mrs.  Brangwen^  was  irritated  by  Anna, 
who  was  suddenly  changed,  under  the  influence  of  the  youth. 
The  mother  liked  the  boy :  he  was  not  quite  an  outsider.  But 
she  did  not  like  her  daughter  to  be  so  much  under  the  spell. 

So  that  gradually  the  two  young  people  drew  apart,  escaped 
from  the  elders,  to  create  a  new  thing  by  themselves.  He 
worked  in  the  garden  to  propitiate  his  uncle.  He  talked 
churches  to  propitiate  his  aunt.  He  followed  Anna  like  a 
shadow:  like  a  long,  persistent,  unswerving  black  shadow  he 
went  after  the  girl.  'It  irritated  Brangwen  exceedingly.  It 
exasperated  him  beyond  bearing,  to  see  the  lit-up  grin,  the  cat- 
grin  as  he  called  it,  on  his  nephew's  face. 

And  Anna  had  a  new  reserve,  a  new  independence.  Sud- 
denly she  began  to  act  independently  of  her  parents,  to  live 
beyond  them.  Her  mother  had  flashes  of  anger. 

But  the  courtship  went  on.  Anna  would  find  occasion  to 
go  shopping  in  Ilkeston  at  evening.  She  always  returned 
with  her  cousin ;  he  walking  with  his  head  over  her  shoulder, 
a  little  bit  behind  her,  like  the  Devil  looking  over  Lincoln, 
as  Brangwen  noted  angrily  and  yet  with  satisfaction. 

To  his  own  wonder,  Will  Brangwen  found  himself  in  an 
electric  state  of  passion.  To  his  wonder,  he  .had  stopped  her 
at  the  gate  as  they  came  home  from  Ilkeston  one  night,  and 
had  kissed  her,  blocking  her  way  and  kissing  her  whilst  he 


106  THE  RAINBOW 

felt  as  if  some  blow  were  struck  at  him  in  the  dark.  And 
when  they  went  indoors,  he  was  acutely  angry  that  her  parents 
looked  up  scrutinizingly  at  him  and  her.  What  right  had 
they  there:  why  should  they  look  up!  Let  them  remove 
themselves,  or  look  elsewhere. 

And  the  youth  went  home  with  the  stars  in  heaven  whirling 
fiercely  about  the  blackness  of  his  head,  and  his  heart  fierce, 
insistent,  but  fierce  as  if  he  felt  something  baulking  him. 
He  wanted  to  smash  through  something. 

A  spell  was  cast  over  her.  And  how  uneasy  her  parents 
were,  as  she  went  about  the  house  unnoticing,  not  noticing 
them,  moving  in  a  spell  as  if  she  were  invisible  to  them.  She 
wus  invisible  to  them.  It  made  them  angry.  Yet  they  had 
to  submit.  She  went  about  absorbed,  obscured  for  a  while. 

Over  him  too  the  darkness  of  obscurity  settled.  He  seemed 
to  be  hidden  in  a  tense,  electric  darkness,  in  which  his  soul, 
his  life  was  intensely  active,  but  without  his  aid  or  attention. 
His  mind  was  obscured.  He  worked  swiftly  and  mechanically, 
and  he  produced  some  beautiful  things. 

His  favourite  work  was  wood-carving.  The  first  thing  he 
made  for  her  was  a  butter-stamper.  In  it  he  carved  a  mytho- 
logical bird,  a  phcenix,  something  like  an  eagle,  rising  on 
symmetrical  wings,  from  a  circle  of  very  beautiful  flickering 
flames  that  "ose  upwards  from  the  rim  of  the  cup. 

Anna  thought  nothing  of  the  gift  on  the  evening  when  he 
gave  it  to  her.  In  the  morning,  however,  when  the  butter 
was  made,  she  fetched  his  seal  in  place  of  the  old  wooden 
stamper  of  oak-leaves  and  acorns.  She  was  curiously  excitec 
to  see  how  it  would  turn  out.  Strange,  the  uncouth  birc 
moulded  there,  in  the  cup-like  hollow,  with  curious,  thick 
waverings  running  inwards  from  a  smooth  rim.  She  pressec 
another  mould.  Strange,  to  lift  the  stamp  and  see  that  eagle- 
beaked  bird  raising  its  breast  to  her.  She  loved  creating  ii 
over  and  over  again.  And  every  time  she  looked,  it  seemed  a 
new  thing  come  to  life.  Every  piece  of  butter  became  this 
strange,  vttal  emblem. 

She  showed  it  to  her  mother  and  father. 

"  That  is  beautiful/'  said  her  mother,  a  little  light  coming 
on  to  her  face. 

"  Beautiful ! "  exclaimed  the  father,  puzzled,  fretted 
"Why,  what  sort  of  a  bird  does  he  call  it?" 

And  this  was  the  question  put  by  the  customers  during  the 
uext  weeks. 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  107 

"What  sort  of  a  bird  do  you  call  that,  as  you've  got  on  thl> 
butter?" 

When  he  came  in  the  evening,  she  took  him  into  the  dairy 
to  show  him. 

"Do  you  like  it?"  he  asked,  in  his  loud,  vibrating  voice 
that  always  sounded  strange,  re-echoing  in  the  dark  places  of 
her  being. 

They  very  rarely  touched  each  other.  They  liked  to  be 
alone  together,  near  to  each  other,  but  there  was  still  a  dis- 
tance between  them. 

In  the  cool  dairy  the  candle-light  lit  on  the  large,  white 
surfaces  of  the  cream  pans.  He  turned  his  head  sharply.  It 
was  so  cool  and  remote  in  there,  so  remote.  His  mouth  was 
open  in  a  little,  strained  laugh.  She  stood  with  her  head 
bent,  turned  aside.  He  wanted  to  go  near  to  her.  He  had 
kissed  her  once.  Again  his  eye  rested  on  the  round  blocks 
of  butter,  where  the  emblematic  bird  lifted  its  breast  from 
the  shadow  cast  by  the  candle  flame.  What  was  restraining 
him?  Her  breast  was  near  him;  his  head  lifted  like  an 
eagle's.  She  did  not  move.  Suddenly,  with  an  incredibly 
quick,  delicate  movement,  he  put  his  arms  round  her  and 
drew  her  to  him.  It  was  quick,  cleanly  done,  like  a  bird  that 
swoops  and  sinks  close,  closer. 

He  was  kissing  her  throat.  She  turned  and  looked  at  him. 
Her  eyes  were  dark  and  flowing  with  fire.  His  eyes  were  hard 
and  'bright  with  a  fierce  purpose  and  gladness,  like  a  hawk's. 
She  felt  him  flying  into  the  dark  space  of  her  flames,  like  a 
brand,  like  a  gleaming  hawk. 

They  had  looked  at  each  other,  and  seen  each  other  strange, 
yet  near,  very  near,  like  a  hawk  stooping,  swooping,  dropping 
into  a  flame  of  darkness.  So  she  took  the  candle  and  they 
went  back  to  the  kitchen. 

They  went  on  in  this  way  for  some  time,  always  coming 
together,  but  rarely  touching,  very  seldom  did  they  kiss. 
And  then,  often,  it  was  merely  a  touch  of  the  lips,  a  sign. 
But  her  eyes  began  to  waken  with  a  constant  fire,  she  paused 
often  in  the  midst  of  her  transit,  as  if  to  recollect  something, 
or  to  discover  something. 

And  his  face  became  sombre,  intent,  he  did  not  readily  hear 
what  was  said  to  him. 

One  .evening  in  August  he  came  when  it  was  raining.  He 
came  in  with  his  jacket  collar  turned  up,  his  jacket  buttoned 
close,  his  face  wet.  And  he  looked  so  slim  and  definite, 


108  THE  RAINBOW 

coming  out  of  the  chill  rain,  she  was  suddenly  blinded  with 
love  for  him.  Yet  he  sat  and  talked  with  her  father  and 
mother,  meaninglessly,  whilst  her  blood  seethed  to  anguish  in 
her.  She  wanted  to  touch  him  now,  only  to  touch  him. 

There  was  the  queer,  abstract  look  on  her  silvery  radiant 
face  that  maddened  her  father,  her  dark  eyes  were  hidden. 
But  she  raised  them  to  the  youth.  And  they  were  dark  with 
a  flare  that  made  him  quail  for  a  moment. 

She  went  into  the  second  kitchen  and  took  a  lantern.  Her 
father  watched  her  as  she  returned. 

"  Come  with  me,  Will,"  she  said  to  her  cousin.  "  I  want 
to  see  if  I  put  the  brick  over  where  that  rat  comes  in." 

"  You've  no  need  to  do  that,"  retorted  her  father.  She 
took  no  notice.  The  youth  was  between  the  two  wills.  The 
colour  mounted  into  the  father's  face,  his  blue  eyes  stared. 
The  girl  stood  near  the  door,  her  head  held  slightly  back, 
like  an  indication  that  the  youth  must  come.  He  rose,  in 
his  silent,  intent  way,  and  was  gone  with  her.  The  blood 
swelled  in  Brangwen's  forehead  veins. 

It  was  raining.  The  light  of  the  lantern  flashed  on  the 
cobbled  path  and  the  bottom  of  the  wall.  She  came  to  a 
small  ladder,  and  climbed  up.  He  reached  her  the  lantern, 
and  followed.  Up  there  in  the  fowl-loft,  the  birds  sat  in  fat 
bunches  on  the  perches,  the  red  combs  shining  like  fire. 
Bright,  sharp  eyes  opened.  There  was  a  sharp  crawk  of  ex- 
postulation as  one  of  the  hens  shifted  over.  The  cock  sat 
watching,  his  yellow  neck-feathers  bright  as  glass.  Anna 
went  across  the  dirty  floor.  Brangwen  crouched  in  the  loft 
watching.  The  light  was  soft  under  the  red,  naked  tiles. 
The  girl  crouched  in  a  corner.  There  was  another  explosive 
bustle  of  a  hen  springing  from  her  perch. 

Anna  came  back,  stooping  under  the  perches.  He  was 
waiting  for  her  near  the  door.  Suddenly  she  had  her  arms 
round  him,  was  clinging  close  to  him,  cleaving  her  body  against" 
his,  and  crying,  in  a  whispering,  whimpering  sound. 

"  Will,  I  love  you,  I  love  you,  Will,  I  love  you."  It  sounded 
as  if  it  were  tearing  her. 

He  was  not  even  very  much  surprised.  He  held  her  in  his 
arms,  and  his  bones  melted.  He  leaned  back  against  the 
wall.  The  door  of  the  loft  was  open.  Outside,  the  rain 
slanted  by  in  fine,  steely,  mysterious  haste,  emerging  out  of 
the  gulf  of  darkness.  He  held  her  in  his  arms,  and  he  and 
tthe  together  seemed  to  be  swinging  in  big,  swooping  oscilla* 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  109 

tions,  the  two  of  them  clasped  together  up  in  the  darkness. 
Outside  the  open  door  of  the  loft  in  which  they  stood,  beyond 
them  and  below  them,  was  darkness,  with  a  travelling  veil 
of  rain. 

"  I  love  you,  Will,  I  love  you/'  she  moaned,  "  I  love  you, 
Will/' 

He  held  her  as  though  they  were  one,  and  was  silent. 

In  the  house,  Tom  Brangwen  waited  a  while.  Then  he 
got  up  and  went  out.  He  went  down  the  yard.  He  saw  the 
curious  misty  shaft  coming  from  the  loft  door.  He  scarcely 
knew  it  was  the  light  in  the  rain.  He  went  on  till  the  illumi- 
nation fell  on  him  dimly.  Then  looking  up,  through  the 
blurr,  he  saw  the  youth  and  the  girl  together,  the  youth  with 
his  back  against  the  wall,  his  head  sunk  over  the  head  of  the 
girl.  The  elder  man  saw  them,  blurred  through  the  rain,  but 
lit  up.  They  thought  themselves  so  buried  in  the  night.  He 
even  saw  the  lighted  dryness  of  the  loft  behind,  and  shadows 
and  bunches  of  roosting  fowls,  up  in  the  night,  strange  shad- 
ows cast  from  the  lantern  on  the  floor. 

And  a  black  gloom  of  anger,  and  a  tenderness  of  self-efface- 
ment, fought  in  his  heart.  She  did  not  understand  what  she 
was  doing.  She  betrayed  herself.  She  was  a  child,  a  mere 
child.  She  did  not  know  how  much  of  herself  she  was  squan- 
dering. And  he  was  blackly  and  furiously  miserable.  Was 
he  then  an  old  man,  that  he  should  be  giving  her  away  in 
marriage  ?  Was  he  old  ?  He  was  not  old.  He  was  younger 
than  that  young  thoughtless  fellow  in  whose  arms  she  lay. 
Who  knew  her  —  he  or  that  blind-headed  youth?  To  whom 
did  she  belong,  if  not  to  himself? 

He  thought  again  of  the  child  he  had  carried  out  at  night 
into  the  barn,  whilst  his  wife  was  in  labour  with  the  young 
Tom.  He  remembered  the  soft,  warm  weight  of  the  little 

firl  on  his  arm,  round  his  neck.  Now  she  would  say  he  was 
nished.  She  was  going  away,  to  deny  him,  to  leave  an  un- 
endurable emptiness  in  him,  a  void  that  he  could  not  bear. 
Almost  he  hated  her.  How  dared  she  say  he  was  old.  He 
walked  on  in  the  rain,  sweating  with  pain,  with  the  horror  of 
being  old,  with  the  agony  of  having  to  relinquish  what  was 
life  to  him. 

Will  Brangwen  went  home  without  having  seen  his  uncla 
He  held  his  hot  face  to  the  rain,  and  walked  on  in  a  trance. 
"I  love  you,  Will,  I  love  you."  The  words  repeated  them- 
selves endlessly.  The  veils  had  ripped  and  issued  him  naked 


110  THE  RAINBOW 

into  the  endless  space,  and  he  shuddered.  The  walls  had 
thrust  him :  out  and  given  him  a  vast  space  to  walk  in. 
Whither,,  through  this  darkness  of  infinite  space,  was  he  walk- 
ing' blindly  ?  Where,  at  the  end  of  all  the  darkness,  was  God 
the  Almighty  still  darkly  seated,  thrusting  him  on ?  "I  love 
you,  Will,  I  love  you."  He  trembled  with  fear  as  the  words 
beat  in  his  heart  again,  r  And  he  dared  not  think  of  her  face, 
of  her  eyes  which  *sh6ne,  and  of  her  strange,  transfigured  face. 
The  hand  of  the  Hidden  Almighty,  burning  bright,  had 
thrust  out  of  the  darkness  and  gripped  him.  He  went  on 
-subject  and  in  fear,  his  heart  gripped  and  burning  from  the 
touch. 

The  days  went  by,  they  ran  on  dark-padded  feet  in  silence 
He  went  to  see  Anna,  but  again  there  had  come  a  reserve 
between  them.  Tom  Brangwen  was  gloomy,  his  blue  eyes 
sombre.  Anna  was  strange  and  delivered  up.  Her  face  in 
its  delicate  colouring  was  mute,  touched  dumb  and  poignant 
The  mother  bowed  her  head  and  moved  in  her  own  dark 
world,  that  was  pregnant  again  with  fulfilment. 

Will  Brangwen  worked  at  his  wood-carving.  It  was  a 
passion,  a  passion  for  him  to  have  the  chisel  under  his  grip 
Verily  the  passion  of  his  heart  lifted  the  fine  bite  of  steel 
He  was  carving,  as  he  had  always  wanted,  the  Creation 
Eve.  It  was  a  panel  in  low  relief,  for  a  church.  Adam  lay 
asleep  as  if  suffering,  and  God,  a  dim,  large  figure,  stoopec 
towards  him,  stretching  forward  His  unveiled  hand ;  and  Eve, 
a  small  vivid,  naked  female  shape,  was  issuing  like  a  flame 
towards  the  hand  of  God,  from  the  torn  side  of  Adam. 

Now,  Will  Brangwen  was  working  at  the  Eve.  She  was 
thin,  a  keen,  unripe  thing.  With  trembling  passion,  fine  as 
a  breath  of  air,  he  sent  the  chisel  over  her  belly,  her  hard, 
unripe,  small  belly.  She  was  a  stiff  little  figure,  with  sharp 
lines,  in  the  throes  and  torture  and  ecstasy  of  her  creation 
But  he  trembled  as  he  touched  her.  He  had  not  finishec 
any  of  his  figures.  There  was  a  bird  on  a  bough  overhead, 
lifting  its  wings  for  flight,  and  a  serpent  wreathing  up  to  it 
It  was  not  finished  yet.  He  trembled  with  passion,  at  lasl 
able  to  create  the  new,  sharp  body  of  his  Eve. 

At  the  sides,  at  the  far  sides,  at  either  end,  were  two  Angels 
covering  their  faces  with  their  wings.  They  were  like  trees 
As  he  went  to  the  Marsh,  in  the  twilight,  he  felt  that  the 
Angels,  with  covered  faces,  were  standing  back  as  he  wenl 
by.  The  darkness  was  of  their  shadows  and  the  covering  oj 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  111 

their  faces.  When  he  went  through  the  Canal  bridge,  the 
evening  glowed  in  its  last  deep  colours,  the  sky  was  dark  blue, 
the  stars  glittered  from  afar,  very  remote  and  approaching 
above  the  darkening  cluster  of  the  farm,  above  the  paths  of 
crystal  along  the  edge  of  the  heavens. 

She  waited  for  him  like  the  glow  of  light,  and  as  if  his 
face  were  covered.  And  he  dared  not  lift  his  face  to  look 
at  her. 

Corn  harvest  came  on.  One  evening  they  walked  out 
through  the  farm  buildings  at  nightfall.  A  large  gold  moon 
hung  heavily  to  the  grey  horizon,  trees  hovered  tall,  stand- 
ing back  in  the  dusk,  waiting.  Anna  and  the  young  man 
went  on  noiselessly  by  the  hedge,  along  where  the  farm-carts 
had  made  dark  ruts  in  the  grass.  They  came  through  a  gate 
into  a  wide  open  field  where  still  much  light  seemed  to  spread 
against  their  faces.  In  the  under-shadow  the  sheaves  lay 
on  the  ground  where  the  reapers  had  left  them,  many  sheaves 
like  bodies  prostrate  in  shadowy  bulk;  others  were  riding 
hazily  in  shocks,  like  ships,  in  the  haze  of  moonlight  and  of 
dusk,  further  off. 

They  did  not  want  to  turn  back,  yet  whither  were  they  to 
go,  towards  the  moon  ?  For  they  were  separate,  single. 

"  We  will  put  up  some  sheaves/7  said  Anna.  So  they  could 
remain  there  in  the  broad,  open  place. 

They  went  across  the  stubble  to  where  the  long  rows  of 
upreared  shocks  ended.  Curiously  populous  that  part  of  the 
field  looked,  where  the  shocks  rode  erect;  the  rest  was  open 
and  prostrate. 

The  air  was  all  hoary  silver.  She  looked  around  her. 
Trees  stood  vaguely  at  their  distance,  as  if  waiting  like 
heralds,  for  the  signal  to  approach.  In  this  space  of  vague 
crystal  her  heart  seemed  like  a  bell  ringing.  She  was  afraid 
lest  the  sound  should  be  heard. 

"  You  take  this  row/7  she  said  to  the  youth,  and  passing 
on,  she  stooped  in  the  next  row  of  lying  sheaves,  grasping 
her  hands  in  the  tresses  of  the  oats,  lifting  the  heavy  corn  in 
either  hand,  carrying  it,  as  it  hung  heavily  against  her,  to 
the  cleared  space,  where  she  set  the  two  sheaves  sharply  down, 
bringing  them  together  with  a  faint,  keen  clash.  Her  two 
bulks  stood  leaning  together.  He  was  coming,  walking 
shadowily  with  the  gossamer  dusk,  carrying  his  two  sheaves. 
She  waited  near  by.  He  set  his  sheaves  with  a  keen,  faint 
clash,  next  to  her  sheaves.  They  rode  unsteadily.  He  tan* 


112  THE  RAINBOW 

gled  the  tresses  of  corn.     It  hissed  like  a  fountain.    He  looked 
up  and  laughed. 

Then  she  turned  away  towards  the  moon,  which  seemed 
glowingly  to  uncover  her  bosom  every  time  she  faced  it.  He 
went  to  the  vague  emptiness  of  the  field  opposite,  dutifully. 

They  stooped,  grasped  the  wet,  soft  hair  of  the  corn,  lifted 
the  heavy  bundles,  and  returned.  She  was  always  first.  She 
set  down  her  sheaves,  making  a  pent  house  with  those  others. 
He  was  coming  shadowy  across  the  stubble,  carrying  his  bun-  - 
dies.  She  turned  away,  hearing  only  the  sharp  hiss  of  his 
mingling  corn.  She  walked  between  the  moon  and  his  shad- 
owy figure. 

She  took  her  new  two  sheaves  and  walked  towards  him, 
as  he  rose  from  stooping  over  the  earth.  He  was  coming 
out  of  the  near  distance.  She  set  down  her  sheaves  to  make 
a  new  stook.  They  were  unsure.  Her  hands  fluttered.  Yet 
she  broke  away,  and  turned  to  the  moon,  which  laid  bare  her 
bosom,  so  she  felt  as  if  her  bosom  were  heaving  and  panting 
with  moonlight.  And  he  had  to  put  up  her  two  sheaves, 
which  had  fallen  down.  He  worked  in  silence.  The  rhythm 
of  the  work  carried  him  away  again,  as  she  was  coming  near. 

They  worked  together,  coming  and  going,  in  a  rhythm, 
which  carried  their  feet  and  their  bodies  in  tune.  She 
stooped,  she  lifted  the  burden  of  sheaves,  she  turned  her  face 
io  the  dimness  where  he  was,  and  went  with  her  burden  over 
the  stubble.  She  hesitated,  set  down  her  sheaves,  there  was  a 
swish  and  hiss  of  mingling  oats,  he  was  drawing  near,  and  she 
must  turn  again.  And  there  was  the  flaring  moon  lajdng  bare 
her  bosom  again,  making  her  drift  and  ebb  like  a  wave. 

He  worked  steadily,  engrossed,  threading  backwards  and 
forwards  like  a  shuttle  across  the  strip  of  cleared  stubble, 
weaving  the  long  line  of  riding  shocks,  nearer  and  nearer 
the  shadowy  trees,  threading  his  sheaves  with  hers. 

And  always,  she  was  gone  betore  he  came.  As  he  came,  sh< 
drew  away,  as  he  drew  away,  she  came.  Were  they  never  t( 
meet?  Gradually  a  low,  deep-sounding  will  in  him  vibratec 
to  her,  tried  to  set  her  in  accord,  tried  to  bring  her  gradually 
to  him,  to  a  meeting,  till  they  should  be  together,  till  they 
should  meet  as  the  sheaves  that  swished  together. 

And  the  work  went  on.     The  moon  grew  brighter,  clearer, 
the  corn  glistened.     He  bent  over  the  prostrate  bundles,  th< 
was  a  hiss  as  the  sheaves  left  the  ground,  a  trailing  of  heai 
bodies  against  him,  a  dazzle  of  moonlight  on  his  eyes. 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  113 

then  he  was  setting  the  corn  together  at  the  stook.  And  she 
was  coming  near. 

He  waited  for  her,  he  fumbled  at  the  stook.  She  came. 
But  she  stood  back  till  he  drew  away.  He  saw  her  in  shadow, 
a  dark  column,  and  spoke  to  her,  and  she  answered.  She 
saw  the  moonlight  flash  question  on  his  face.  But  there  was 
a  space  between  them,  and  he  went  away,  the  work  carried 
them,  rhythmic. 

Why  was  there  always  a  space  between  them,  why  were 
they  apart?  Why,  as  she  came  up  from  under  the  moon, 
would  she  halt  and  stand  off  from  him?  Why  was  he  held 
away  from  her?  His  will  drummed  persistently,  darkly,  it 
drowned  everything  else. 

Into  the  rhythm  of  his  work  there  came  a  pulse  and  a 
steadied  purpose.  He  stooped,  he  lifted  the  weight,  he  heaved 
it  towards  her,  setting  it  as  in  her,  under  the  moonlit  space. 
And  he  went  back  for  more.  Ever  with  increasing  closeness 
he  lifted  the  sheaves  and  swung  striding  to  the  centre  with 
them,  ever  he  drove  her  more  nearly  to  the  meeting,  ever  he 
did  his  share,  and  drew  towards  her,  overtaking  her.  There 
was  only  the  moving  to  and  fro  in  the  moonlight,  engrossed, 
the  swinging  in  the  silence,  that  was  marked  only  by  the 
splash  of  sheaves,  and  silence,  and  a  splash  of  sheaves.  And 
ever  the  splash  of  his  sheaves  broke  swifter,  beating  up  to 
hers,  and  ever  the  splash  of  her  sheaves  recurred  monotonously, 
unchanging,  and  ever  the  splash  of  his  sheaves  beat  nearer. 

Till  at  last,  they  met  at  the  shock,  facing  each  other,  sheaves 
in  hand.  And  he  was  silvery  with  moonlight,  with  a  moonlit, 
shadowy  face  that  frightened  her.  She  waited  for  him. 

"  Put  yours  down,"  she  said. 

"  No,  it's  your  turn."  His  voice  was  twanging  and  in- 
sistent. 

She  set  her  sheaves  against  the  shock.  He  saw  her  hands 
glisten  among  the  spray  of  grain.  And  he  dropped  his  sheaves 
and  he  trembled  as  he  took  her  in  his  arms.  He  had  over- 
taken her,  and  it  was  his  privilege  to  kiss  her.  She  was 
sweet  and  fresh  with  the  night  air,  and  sweet  with  the  scent 
of  grain.  And  the  whole  rhythm  of  him  beat  into  his  kisses, 
and  still  he  pursued  her,  in  his  kisses,  and  still  she  was  not 
quite  overcome.  He  wondered  over  the  moonlight  on  her 
nose!  All  the  moonlight  upon  her,  all  the  darkness  within 
her!  All  the  night  in  his  arias,  darkness  and  shine,  he  pos- 
sessed of  it  all!  All  the  night  for  him  now,  to  unfold,  to 


114  THE  RAINBOW 

venture  within,  all  the  mystery  to  be  entered,  all  the  discovery 
to  be  made. 

Trembling  with"  keen  triumph,  his  heart  was  white  as  a  star 
;is  he  drove  his  kisses  nearer. 

"  My  love ! "  she  called,  in  a  low  voice,  from  afar.  The 
low  sound  seemed  to  call  to  him  from  far  off,  under  the  moon, 
to  him  who  was  unaware.  He  stopped,  quivered,  and  listened. 

"  My  love,"  came  again  the  low,  plaintive  call,  like  a  bird 
unseen  in  the  night. 

He  was  afraid.  His  heart  quivered  and  broke.  He  was 
stopped. 

"  Anna,"  he  said,  as  if  he  answered  her  from  a  distance, 
unsure. 

"  My  love." 

And  he  drew  near,  and  she  drew  near. 

"  Anna,"  he  said,  in  wonder  and  birthpain  of  love. 

"  My  love,"  she  said  her  voice  growing  rapturous.  And 
they  kissed  on  the  mouth,  in  rapture  and  surprise,  long,  real 
kisses.  The  kiss  lasted,  there  among  the  moonlight.  He 
kissed  her  again,  and  she  kissed  him.  And  again  they  were 
kissing  together.  Till  something  happened  in  him,  he  was 
strange.  He  wanted  her.  He  wanted  her  exceedingly.  She 
was  something  new.  They  stood  there  folded,  suspended  in 
the  night.  And  his  whole  being  quivered  with  surprise,  as 
from  a  blow.  He  wanted  her,  and  he  wanted  to  tell  her  so. 
But  the  shock  was  too  great  to  him.  He  had  never  realized 
before.  He  trembled  with  irritation  and  unusedness,  he  did 
not  know  what  to  do.  He  held  her  more  gently,  gently,  much 
more  gently.  The  conflict  was  gone  by.  And  he  was  glad, 
and  breathless,  and  almost  in  tears.  But  he  knew  he  wanted 
her.  Something  fixed  in  him  for  ever.  He  was  hers.  And 
he  was  very  glad  and  afraid.  He  did  not  know  what  to  do, 
as  they  stood  there  in  the  open,  moonlit  field.  He  looked 
through  her  hair  at  the  moon,  which  seemed  to  swim  liquid- 
bright. 

She  sighed,  and  seemed  to  wake  up,  then  she  kissed  him 
again.  Then  she  loosened  herself  away  from  him  and  took 
his  hand.  It  hurt  him  when  she  drew  away  from  his  breast. 
It  hurt  him  with  a  chagrin.  "Why  did  she  draw  away  from 
him?  But  she  held  his  hand. 

"  I  want  to  go  home,"  she  said,  looking  at  him  in  a  way  he 
could  not  understand. 

He  held  close  to  her  hand.     He  was  dazed  and  he  could  not 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  115 

move,  he  did  not  know  how  to  move.     She  drew  him  away. 

He  walked  helplessly  beside  her,  holding  her  hand.  She 
went  with  bent  head.  Suddenly  he  said,  as  the  simple  solu- 
tion stated  itself  to  him : 

"  We'll  get  married,  Anna." 

She  was  silent. 

"  We'll  get  married,  Anna,  shall  we  ?  " 

She  stopped  in  the  field  again  and  kissed  him,  clinging  to 
him  passionately,  in  a  way  he  could  not  understand.  He 
could  not  understand.  But  he  left  it  all  now,  to  marriage. 
That  was  the  solution  now,  fixed  ahead.  He  wanted  her,  he 
wanted  to  be  married  to  her,  he  wanted  to  have  her  altogether, 
as  his  own  for  ever.  And  he  waited,  intent,  for  the  accom- 
plishment. But  there  was  all  the  while  a  slight  tension  of 
irritation. 

He  spoke  to  his  uncle  and  aunt  that  night. 

"  Uncle/'  he  said,  "  Anna  and  me  think  of  getting  mar" 
ried." 

"  Oh  ay !  "  said  Brangwen. 

"  But  how,  you  have  no  money  ?  "  said  the  mother. 

The  youth  went  pale.  He  hated  these  words.  But  he  was 
like  a  gleaming,  bright  pebble,  something  bright  and  inalter- 
able. He  did  not  think.  He  sat  there  in  his  hard  brightness, 
and  did  not  speak. 

"  Have  you  mentioned  it  to  your  own  mother  ? "  asked 
Brangwen. 

«  No  —  I'll  tell  her  on  Saturday." 

"  You'll  go  and  see  her  ?  " 

"Yes."  . 

There  was  a  long  pause. 

"  And  what  are  you  going  to  marry  on  —  your  pound  & 
week?" 

Again  the  youth  went  pale,  as  if  the  spirit  were  being  in- 
jured in  him. 

"I  don't  know,"  he  said,  looking  at  his  uncle  with  his 
bright  inhuman  eyes,  like  a  hawk's. 

Brangwen  stirred  in  hatred. 

"  It  needs  knowing,"  he  said. 

"  I  shall  have  the  money  later  on,"  said  the  nephew.  "  I 
will  raise  some  now,  and  pay  it  back  then." 

"  Oh  ay !  —  And  why  this  desperate  hurry?  She's  a  child 
of  eighteen,  and  you're  a  boy  of  twenty.  You're  neither  of 
you  of  age  to  do  as  you  like  yet." 


116  THE  RAINBOW 

Will  Brangwen  ducked  his  head  and  looked  at  his  uncle  with 
swift,  bright  mistrustful  eyes,  like  a  caged  hawk. 

"  What  does  it  matter  how  old  she  is,  and  how  old  I  am  ?  " 
he  said.  "What's  the  difference  between  me  now  and  when 
I'm  thirty?" 

"  A  big  difference,  let  us  hope." 

"But  you  have  no  experience  —  you  have  no  experience, 
and  no  money.  Why  do  you  want  to  marry,  without  experi- 
ence or  money  ?  "  asked  the  aunt. 

"  What  experience  do  I  want,  Aunt  ?  "  asked  the  boy. 

And  if  Brangwen's  heart  had  not  been  hard  and  intact  with 
anger,  like  a  precious  stone,  he  would  have  agreed. 

Will  Brangwen  went  home  strange  and  untouched.  He 
felt  he  could  not  alter  from  what  he  was  fixed  upon,  his  will 
was  set.  To  alter  it  he  must  be  destroyed.  And  he  would 
not  be  destroyed.  He  had  no  money.  But  he  would  get  some 
from  somewhere,  it  did  not  matter.  He  lay  awake  for  many 
hours,  hard  and  clear  and  unthinking,  his  soul  crystallizing 
more  inalterably.  Then  he  went  fast  asleep. 

It  was  as  if  his  soul  had  turned  into  a  hard  crystal.  He 
might  tremble  and  quiver  and  suffer,  it  did  not  alter. 

The  next  morning  Tom  Brangwen,  inhuman  with  anger, 
spoke  to  Anna. 

"  What's  this  about  wanting  to  get  married  ?  "  he  said. 

She  stood,  paling  a  little,  her  dark  eyes  springing  to  the 
hostile,  startled  look  of  a  savage  thing  that  will  defend  itself, 
but  trembles  with  sensitiveness. 

"  I  do,"  she  said,  out  of  her  unconsciousness. 

His  anger  rose,  and  he  would  have  liked  to  break  her. 

"  You  do  —  you  do  —  and  what  for  ?  "  he  sneered  with  con- 
tempt. The  old,  childish  agony,  the  blindness  that  could 
recognize  nobody,  the  palpitating  antagonism  as  of  a  raw, 
helpless,  undefended  thing  came  back  on  her. 

"  I  do  because  I  do,"  she  cried,  in  the  shrill,  hysterical  way 
of  her  childhood.  "  You  are  not  my  father  —  my  father  is 
dead  —  you  are  not  my  father." 

She  was  still  a  stranger.  She  did  not  recognize  him.  The 
cold  blade  cut  down,  deep  into  Brangwen's  soul.  It  cut  him 
off  from  her. 

"  And  what  if  I'm  not  ?"  he  said. 

But  he  could  not  bear  it.  It  had  been  so  passionately  dear 
to  him,  her  "  Father  —  Daddie." 

He  went  about  for  some  days  as  if  stunned.     His  wife  was 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  117 

bemused.  She  did  not  understand.  She  only  thought  the 
marriage  was  impeded  for  want  of  money  and  position. 

There  was  a  horrible  silence  in  the  house.  Anna  kept  out 
of  sight  as  much  as  possible.  She  could  be  for  hours  alone. 

Will  Brangwen  came  back,  after  stupid  scenes  at  Notting- 
ham. He  too  was  pale  and  blank,  but  unchanging.  His 
uncle  hated  him.  He  hated  this  youth,  who  was  so  inhuman 
and  obstinate.  Nevertheless,  it  was  to  Will  Brangwen  that 
the  uncle,  one  evening,  handed  over  the  shares  which  he  had 
transferred  to  Anna  Lensky.  They  were  for  two  thousand 
five  hundred  pounds.  Will  Brangwen  looked  at  his  uncle. 
It  was  a  great  deal  of  the  Marsh  capital  here  given  away. 
The  youth,  however,  was  only  colder  and  more  fixed.  He  was 
abstract,  purely  a  fixed  will.  He  gave  the  shares  to  Anna. 

After  which  she  cried  for  a  whole  day,  sobbing  her  eyes 
out.  And  at  night,  when  she  had  heard  her  mother  go  to 
bed,  she  slipped  down  and  hung  in  the  doorway.  Her  father 
sat  in  his  heavy  silence,  like  a  monument.  He  turned  his 
head  slowly. 

"Daddy,"  she  cried  from  the  doorway,  and  she  ran  to 
him  sobbing  as  if  her  heart  would  break.  "  Daddy  —  daddy 
—  daddy." 

She  crouched  on  the  hearthrug  with  her  arms  round  him 
and  her  face  against  him.  His  body  was  so  big  and  comfort- 
able. But  something  hurt  her  head  intolerably.  She  sobbed 
almost  with  hysteria. 

He  was  silent,  with  his  hand  on  her  shoulder.  His  heart 
was  bleak.  He  was  not  her  father.  That  beloved  image  she 
had  broken.  Who  was  he  then  ?  A  man  put  apart  with  those 
whose  life  has  no  more  developments.  He  was  isolated  from 
her.  There  was  a  generation  between  them,  he  was  old,  he 
had  died  out  from  hot  life.  A  great  deal  of  ash  was  in  his 
fire,  cold  ash.  He  felt  the  inevitable  coldness,  and  in  bitter- 
ness forgot  the  fire.  He  sat  in  his  coldness  of  age  and  isola- 
tion. He  had  his  own  wife.  And  he  blamed  himself,  he 
sneered  at  himself,  for  this  clinging  to  the  young,  wanting  the 
young  to  belong  to  him. 

The  child  who  clung  to  him  wanted  her  child-husband.  As 
was  natural.  And  from  him,  Brangwen,  she  wanted  help,  so 
that  her  life  might  be  properly  fitted  out.  But  love  she  did 
not  want.  Why  should  there  be  love  between  them,  between 
the  stout,  middle-aged  man  and  this  child  ?  How  could  there 
be  anything  befween  them,  but  mere  human  willingness  to 


118  THE  RAINBOW 

help  each  other?  He  was  her  guardian,  no  more.  His  heart 
was  like  ice,  his  face  cold  and  expressionless.  She  could  not 
move  him  any  more  than  a  statue. 

She  crept  to  bed,  and  cried.     But  she  was  going  to  be  mar-   I 
ried  to  Will  Brangwen,  and  then  she  need  not  bother  any 
more.     Brangwen  went  to  bed  with  a  hard,  cold  heart,  and 
cursed  himself.     He  looked  at  his  wife.     She  was  still  his   I 
wife.     Her  dark  hair  was  threaded  with  grey,  her  face  was    j 
beautiful  in  its  gathering  age.     She  was  just  fifty.     How 
poignantly  he  saw  .her !     And  he  wanted  to  cut  out  some  of 
his  own  heart,  which  was  incontinent,  and  demanded  still  to 
share  the  rapid  life  of  youth.     How  he  hated  himself. 

His  wife  was  so  poignant  and  timely.  She  was  still  young 
and  nai've,  with  some  girl's  freshness.  But  she  did  not  want 
any  more  the  fight,  the  battle,  the  control,  as  he,  in  his  inconti- 
nence, still  did.  She  was  so  natural,  and  he  was  ugly,  un- 
natural, in  his  inability  to  yield  place.  How  hideous,  this 
greedy  middle-age,  which  must  stand  in  the  way  of  life,  like  a 
large  demon. 

What  was  missing  in  his  life,  that,  in  his  ravening  soul, 
he  was  not  satisfied?  He  had  had  that  friend  at  school,  his 
mother,  his  wife,  and  Anna?  What  had  he  done?  He  had 
failed  with  his  friend,  he  had  been  a  poor  son;  but  he  had 
known  satisfaction  with  his  wife,  let  it  be  enough ;  he  loathed 
himself  for  the  state  he  was  in  over  Anna.  Yet  he  was  not 
satisfied.  It  was  agony  to  know  it. 

Was  his  life  nothing  ?  Had  he  nothing  to  show,  no  work  ? 
He  did  not  count  his  work,  anybody  could  have  done  it. 
What  had  he  known,  but  the  long,  marital  embrace  with  his 
wife !  Curious,  that  this  was  what  his  life  amounted  to !  At 
any  rate,  it  was  something,  it  was  eternal.  He  would  say  so 
to  anybody,  and  be  proud  of  it.  He  lay  with  his  wife  in  his 
arms,  and  she  was  still  his  fulfilment,  just  the  same  as  ever. 
And  that  was  the  be-all  and  the  end-all.  Yes,  and  he  was 
proud  of  it. 

But  the  bitterness,  underneath,  that  there  still  remained  an 
unsatisfied  Tom  Brangwen,  who  suffered  agony  because  a  girl 
cared  nothing  for  him.  He  loved  his  sons  —  he  had  them 
also.  But  it  was  the  further,  the  creative  life  with  the  girl, 
he  wanted  as  well.  Oh,  and  he  was  ashamed.  He  trampled 
himself  to  extinguish  himself. 

What  weariness!     There  was  no  peace,  however  old  one 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  119 

grew!  One  was  never  right,  never  decent,  never  master  of 
oneself.  It  was  as  if  his  hope  had  been  in  the  girl. 

Anna  quickly  lapsed  again  into  her  love  for  the  youth. 
Will  Brangwen  had  fixed  his  marriage  for  the  Saturday  before 
Christmas.  And  he  waited  for  her,  in  his  bright,  unquestion- 
ing fashion,  until  then.  He  wanted  her,  she  was  his,  he  sus- 
pended his  being  till  the  day  should  come.  The  wedding  day, 
December  the  twenty-third,  had  come  into  being  for  him  as 
an  absolute  thing.  He  lived  in  it. 

He  did  not  count  the  days.  But  like  a  man  w^ho  journeys 
in  a  ship,  he  was  suspended  till  the  coming  to  port. 

He  worked  at  his  carving,  he  worked  in  his  office,  he  came 
to  see  her;  all  was  but  a  form  of  waiting,  without  thought  or 
question. 

She  was  much  more  alive.  She  wanted  to  enjoy  courtship, 
He  seemed  to  come  and  go  like  the  wind,  without  asking  why 
or  whither.  But  she  wanted  to  enjoy  his  presence.  For  her, 
he  was  the  kernel  of  life,  to  touch  him  alone  was  bliss.  But 
for  him,  she  was  the  essence  of  life.  She  existed  as  much 
when  he  was  at  his  carving  in  his  lodging  in  Ilkeston,  as 
when  she  sat  looking  at  him  in  the  Marsh  kitchen.  In  him- 
self, he  knew  her.  But  his  outward  faculties  seemed  sus- 
pended. He  did  not  see  her  with  his  eyes,  nor  hear  her  with 
his  voice. 

And  yet  he  trembled,  sometimes  into  a  kind  of  swoon,  hold- 
ing her  in  his  arms.  They  would  stand  sometimes  folded 
together  in  the  barn,  in  silence.  Then  to  her,  as  she  felt  his 
young,  tense  figure  with  her  hands,  the  bliss  was  intolerable, 
intolerable  the  sense  that  she  possessed  him.  For  his  body 
was  so  keen  and  wonderful,  it  was  the  only  reality  in  her 
world.  In  her  world,  there  was  this  one  tense,  vivid  body  of 
a  man,  and  then  many  other  shadowy  men,  all  unreal.  In 
him,  she  touched  the  centre  of  reality.  And  they  were  to- 
gether, he  and  she,  at  the  heart  of  the  secret.  How  she 
clutched  him  to  her,  his  body  the  central  body  of  all  life. 
Out  of  the  rock  of  his  form  the  very  fountain  of  life  flowed. 

But  to  him,  she  was  a  flame  that  consiimed  him.  The 
flame  flowed  up  his  limbs,  flowed  through  him,  till  he  was 
consumed,  till  he  existed  only  as  an  unconscious,  dark  transit 
of  flame,  deriving  from  her. 

Sometimes,  in  the  darkness,  a  cow  coughed.  There  was, 
in  the  darkness,  a  slow  sound  of  cud  chewing.  And  it  all 


120  THE  RAINBOW 

seemed  to  flow  round  them  and  upon  them  as  the  hot  blood 
flows  through  the  womb,  laving  the  unborn  young. 

Sometimes,  when  it  was  cold,  they  stood  to  be  lovers  in 
the  stables,  where  the  air  was  warm  and  sharp  with  ammonia. 
And  during  these  dark  vigils,  he  learned  to  know  her,  her 
body  against  his,  they  drew  nearer  and  nearer  together,  the 
kisses  came  more  subtly  close  and  fitting.  So  when  in  the 
thick  darkness  a  horse  suddenly  scrambled  to  its  feet,  with 
a  dull,  thunderous  sound,  they  listened  as  one  person  listening, 
they  knew  as  one  person,  they  were  conscious  of  the  horse. 

Tom  Brangwen  had  taken  them  a  cottage  at  Cossethay,  on 
a  twenty-one  years'  lease.  "Will  Brangwen's  eyes  lit  up  as 
he  saw  it.  It  was  the  cottage  next  the  church,  with  dark  yew- 
trees,  very  black  old  trees,  along  the  side  of  the  house  and 
the  grassy  front  garden;  a  red,  squarish  cottage  with  a  low 
slate  roof,  and  low  windows.  It  had  a  long  dairy-scullery,  a 
big  flagged  kitchen,  and  a  low  parlour,  that  went  up  one  step 
from  the  kitchen.  There  were  whitewashed  beams  across  tliQ' 
ceilings,  and  odd  corners  with  cupboards.  Looking  out 
through  the  windows,  there  was  the  grassy  garden,  the  pro- 
cession of  black  yew-trees  down  one  side,  and  along  the  other 
sides,  a  red  wall  with  ivy  separating  the  place  from  the  high- 
road and  the  churchyard.  The  old,  little  church,  with  its 
small  spire  on  a  square  tower,  seemed  to  be  looking  back  at 
the  cottage  windows. 

"  There'll  be  no  need  to  have  a  clock,"  said  Will  Brangwen, 
peeping  out  at  the  white  clock-face  on  the  tower,  his  neigh 
bour. 

At  the  back  of  the  house  was  a  garden  adjoining  the  pad- 
dock, a  cowshed  with  standing  for  two  cows,  pig-cotes  and 
fowl-houses.  Will  Brangwen  was  very  happy.  Anna  was 
glad  to  think  of  being  mistress  of  her  own  place. 

Tom  Brangwen  was  now  the  fairy  godfather.  He  was 
never  happy  unless  he  was  buying  something.  Will  Brang- 
wen, with  his  interest  in  all  wood-work,  was  getting  the  furni- 
ture. He  was  left  to  buy  tables  and  round-staved  chairs  and 
the  dressers,  quite  ordinary  stuff,  but  such  as  was  identified 
with  his  cottage. 

Tom  Brangwen,  with  more  particular  thought,  spied  out 
what  he  called  handy  little  things  for  her.  He  appeared  with 
a  set  of  new-fangled  cooking-pans,  with  a  special  sort  of  hang- 
ing lamp,  though  the  rooms  were  so  low,  with  canny  little 


GIRLHOOD  OF  ANNA  BRANGWEN  121 

machines  for  grinding  meat  or  mashing  potatoes  or  whisking 
eggs. 

Anna  took  a  sharp  interest  in  what  he  bought,  though  she 
was  not  always  pleased.  Some  of  the  little  contrivances, 
which  he  thought  so  canny,  left  her  doubtful.  Nevertheless 
she  was  always  expectant,  on  market  days  there  Was  always 
a  long  thrill  of  anticipation.  He  arrived  with  the  first  dark- 
ness, the  copper  lamps  of  his  cart  glowing.  And  she  ran  to 
the  gate,  as  he,  a  dark,  burly  figure  up  in  the  cart,  was  bending 
over  his  parcels. 

"  It's  cupboard  love  as  brings  you  out  so  sharp/'  he  said,  his 
voice  resounding  in  the  cold  darkness.  Nevertheless  he  was 
excited.  And  she,  taking  one  of  the  cart  lamps,  poked  and 
peered  among  the  jumble  of  things  he  had  brought,  pushing 
aside  the  oil  or  implements  he  had  got  for  himself. 

She  dragged  out  a  pair  of  small,  strong  bellows,  registered 
them  in  her  mind,  and  then  pulled  uncertainly  at  something 
else.  It  had  a  long  handle,  and  a  piece  of  brown  paper  round 
the  middle  of  it,  like  a  waistcoat. 

"  What's  this  ?  "  she  said,  poking. 

He  stopped  to  look  at  her.  She  went  to  the  lamp-light  by 
the  horse,  and  stood  there  bent  over  the  new  thing,  wThile  her 
hair  was  like  bronze,  her  apron  white  and  cheerful.  Her  fin- 
gers plucked  busily  at  the  paper.  She  dragged  forth  a  little 
wringer,  with  clean  indiarubber  rollers.  She  examined  it 
critically,  not  knowing  quite  how  it  worked. 

She  looked  up  at  him.  He  stood  a  shadowy  presence  be* 
yond  the  light. 

"  How  does  it  go  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  Why,  it's  for  pulpin'  turnips,"  he  replied. 

She  looked  at  him.     His  voice  disturbed  her. 

"  Don't  be  silly.  It's  a  little  mangle,"  she  said.  "  How  do 
you  stand  it,  though  ?  " 

"  You  screw  it  on  th'  side  o'  your  wash-tub."  He  came  and 
held  it  out  to  her. 

"  Oh,  yes !  "  she  cried,  with  one  of  her  little  skipping  move- 
ments, which  still  came  when  she  was  suddenly  glad. 

And  without  another  thought  she  ran  off  into  the  house, 
leaving  him  to  untackle  the  horse.  And  when  he  came  into 
the  scullery,  he  found  her  there,  with  the  little -wringer  fixed 
on  the  dolly-tub,  turning  blissfully  at  the  handle,  and  Tilly 
beside  her,  exclaiming: 


*22  THE  RAINBOW 

"My  word,  that's  a  natty  little  thing!  That'll  save  you 
luggin'  your  inside  out.  That's  the  latest  contraption,  that 
is." 

And  Anna  turned  away  at  the  handle,  with  great  gusto  of 
possession.  Then  she  let  Tilly  have  a  turn. 

"It  fair  runs  by  itself,"  said  Tilly,  turning  on  and  on. 
"  Your  clothes'll  nip  out  on  to  th'  line." 


CHAPTER  V 

WEDDING   AT   THE   MARSH 

IT  was  a  beautiful  sunny  day  for  the  wedding,  a  muddy 
earth  but  a  bright  sky.     They  had  three  cabs  and  two 
big  closed-in  vehicles.     Everybody  crowded  in  the  par- 
lour in  excitement.     Anna  was  still  upstairs.     Her  father 
kept  taking  a  nip  of  brandy.     He  was  handsome  in  his  black 
coat  and  grey  trousers.     His  voice  was  hearty  but  troubled. 
His  wife  came  down  in  dark  grey  silk  with  lace,  and  a  touch 
of  peacock-blue  in  her  bonnet.     Her  little  body  was  very  sure 
and  definite.     Brangwen  was  thankful  she  was  there,  to  sus- 
tain him  among  all  these  people. 

The  carriages!  The  Nottingham  Mrs.  Brangwen,  in  silk 
brocade,  stands  in  the  doorway  saying  who  must  go  with 
whom.  There  is  a  great  bustle.  The  front  door  is  opened, 
and  the  wedding  guests  are  walking  down  the  garden  path, 
whilst  those  still  waiting  peer  through  the  window,  and  the 
little  crowd  at  the  gate  gorps  and  stretches.  How  funny  such 
dressed-up  people  look  in  the  winter  sunshine ! 

They  are  gone  —  another  lot !  There  begins  to  be  more 
room.  Anna  comes  down  blushing  and  very  shy,  to  be  viewed 
in  her  white  silk  and  her  veil.  Her  mother-in-law  surveys 
her  objectively,  twitches  the  white  train,  arranges  the  folds  of 
the  veil  and  asserts  herself. 

Loud  exclamations  from  the  window  that  the  bridegroom's 
carriage  has  just  passed. 

"  Where's  your  hat,  father,  and  your  gloves  ? "  cries  the 
bride,  stamping  her  white  slipper,  her  eyes  flashing  through 
her  veil.  He  hunts  round  —  his  hair  is  ruffled.  Everybody 
has  gone  but  the  bride  and  her  father.  He  is  ready  —  hi& 
face  very  red  and  daunted.  Tilly  dithers  in  the  little  porch, 
waiting  to  open  the  door.  A  waiting  woman  walks  round 
Anna,  who  asks: 

"  Am  I  all  right?" 

She  is  ready.  She  bridles  herself  and  looks  queenly.  She 
waves  her  hand  sharply  to  her  father : 

123 


124  THE  RAINBOW 

"  Come  here !  " 

He  goes.  She  puts  her  hand  very  lightly  on  Ms  arm,  and 
holding  her  bouquet  like  a  shower,  stepping,  oh,  very  gra- 
ciously, just  a  little  impatient  with  her  father  for  being  so  red 
in  the  face,  she  sweeps  slowly  past  the  fluttering  Tilly,  and 
down  the  path.  There  are  hoarse  shouts  at  the  gate,  and  all 
her  floating  foamy  whiteness  passes  slowly  into  the  cab. 

Her  father  notices  her  slim  ankle  and  foot  as  she  steps  up : 
a  child's  foot.  His  heart  is  hard  with  tenderness.  But  she 
is  in  ecstasies  with  herself  for  making  such  a  lovely  spectacle. 
All  the  way  she  sat  flamboyant  with. bliss  because  it  was  all 
so  lovely.  She  looked  down  solicitously  at  her  bouquet :  white 
roses  and  lilies-of-the-valley  and  tube-roses  and  maidenhair 
fern  —  very  rich  and  cascade-like. 

Her  father  sat  bewildered  with  all  this  strangeness,  his 
heart  was  so  full  it  felt  hard,  and  he  couldn't  think  of  any- 
thing. 

The  church  was  decorated  for  Christmas,  dark  with  ever- 
greens, cold  and  snowy  with  white  flowers.  He  .went  vaguely 
down  to  the  altar.  How  long  was  it  since  he  had  gone  to  be 
married  himself?  He  was  not  sure  whether  he  was  going  to 
be  married  now,  or  what  he  had  come  for.  He  had  a  troubled 
notion  that  he  had  to  do  something  or  other.  He  saw  his 
wife's  bonnet,  and  wondered  why  she  wasn't  there  with  him. 

They  stood  before  the  altar.  He  was  staring  up  at  the 
east  window,  that  glowed  intensely,  a  sort  of  blue  purple:  it 
was  deep  blue  glowing,  and  some  crimson,  and  little  yellow 
flowers  held  fast  in  veins  of  shadow,  in  a  heavy  web  of  dark- 
ness. How  it  burned  alive  in  radiance  among  its  black  web. 

"Who  giveth  this  woman  to  be  married  to  this  man?" 
He  felt  somebody  touch  him.  He  started.  The  words  still 
re-echoed  in  his  memory,  but  were  drawing  off. 

"  Me,"  he  said  hastily. 

Anna  bent  her  head  and  smiled  in  her  veil.  How  absurd 
he  was ! 

Brangwen  was  staring  away  at  the  burning  blue  window 
at  the  back  of  the  altar,  and  wondering  vaguely,  with  pain, 
if  he  ever  should  get  old,  if  he  ever  should  feel  arrived  and 
established.  He  was  here  at  Anna's  wedding.  Well,  what 
right  had  he  to  feel  responsible,  like  a  father?  He  was 
still  as  unsure  and  unfixed  as  when  he  had  married  himself. 
His  wife  and  he!  With  a  pang  of  anguish  he  realized  what 
uncertainties  they  both  were.  He  was  a  man  of  forty-five. 


WEDDING  AT  THE  MARSH  125 

Forty-five!  In  five  more  years  fifty.  Then  sixty  —  then 
seventy  —  then  it  was  finished.  My  God  —  and  one  still  was 
so  unestablished ! 

How  did  one  grow  old  —  how  could  one  become  confident  ? 
He  wished  he  felt  older.  Why,  what  difference  was  there, 
as  far  as  he  felt  matured  or  completed,,  between  him  now  and 
him  at  his  own  wedding?  He  might  be  getting  married  over 
again  —  he  and  his  wife.  He  felt  himself  tiny,  a  little,  up- 
right figure  on  a  plain  circled  round  with  the  immense,  roar- 
ing sky:  he  and  his  wife,  two  little,  upright  figures  walking 
across  this  plain,  whilst  the  heavens  shimmered  and  roared 
about  them.  When  did  one  come  to  an  end?  In  which  di- 
rection was  it  finished?  There  was  no  end,  no  finish,  only 
this  roaring  vast  space.  Did  one  never  get  old,  never  die? 
That  was  the  clue.  He  exulted  strangely,  with  torture.  Hi 
would  go  on  with  his  wife,  he  and  she  like  two  children  camp- 
ing in  the  plains.  What  was  sure  but  the  endless  sky  ?  But 
that  was  so  sure,  so  boundless. 

Still  the  royal  blue  colour  burned  and  blazed  and  sported 
itself  in  the  web  of  darkness  before  him,  unwearyingly  rich 
and  splendid.  How  rich  and  splendid  his  own  life  was,  red 
and  burning  and  blazing  and  sporting  itself  in  the  dark  meshes 
of  his  body:  and  his  wife,  how  she  glowed  and  burned  dark 
within  her  meshes!  Always  it  was  so  unfinished  and  un- 
formed ! 

There  was  a  loud  noise  of  the  organ.  The  whole  party  was 
trooping  to  the  vestry.  There  was  a  blotted,  scrawled  book  — 
and  that  young  girl  putting  back  her  veil  in  her  vanity,  and 
laying  her  hand  with  the  wedding-ring  self-consciously  con- 
spicuous, and  signing  her  name  proudly  because  of  the  vain 
spectacle  she  made : 

"  Anna  Theresa  Lensky." 

"  Anna  Theresa  Lensky  " —  what  a  vain,  independent  minx 
she  was!  The  bridegroom,  slender  in  his  black  swallow-tail 
and  grey  trousers,  solemn  as  a  young  solemn  cat,  was  writing 
seriously : 

"William  Brangwen." 

That  looked  more  like  it. 

"  Come  and  sign,  father,"  cried  the  imperious  young  hussy. 

"  Thomas  Brangwen  —  clumsy-fist,"  he  said  to  himself  as 
he  signed. 

Then  his  brother,  a  big,  sallow  fellow  with  black  side* 
whiskers  wrote: 


126  THE  RAINBOW 

"Alfred  Brangwen." 

"  How  many  more  Brang\»  ens  ? "  said  Tom  Brangwen, 
ashamed  of  the  too-frequent  recurrence  of  his  family  name. 

When  they  were  out  again  in  the  sunshine,  and  he  saw  the 
frost  hoary  and  blue  among  the  long  grass  under  the  tomb- 
stones, the  holly-berries  overhead  twinkling  scarlet  as  the 
bells  rang,  the  yew  trees  hanging  their  black,  motionless, 
ragged  boughs,  everything  seemed  like  a  vision. 

The  marriage  party  went  across  the  graveyard  to  the  wall, 
mounted  it  by  the  little  steps,  and  descended.  Oh,  a  vain 
white  peacock  of  a  bride  perching  herself  on  the  top  of  the 
wall  and  giving  her  hand  to  the  bridegroom  on  the  other  side, 
to  be  helped  down !  The  vanity  of  her  white,  slim,  daintily- 
stepping  feet,  and  her  arched  neck.  And  the  regal  impu- 
dence with  which  she  seemed  to  dismiss  them  all,  the  others, 
parents  and  wedding  guests,  as  she  went  with  her  young  hus- 
band. 

In  the  cottage  big  fires  were  burning,  there  were  dozens  of 
glasses  on  the  table,  and  holly  and  mistletoe  hanging  up. 
The  wedding  party  crowded  in,  and  Tom  Brangwen,  becoming 
roisterous,  poured  out  drinks.  Everybody  must  drink.  The 
bells  were  ringing  away  against  the  windows. 

"  Lift  your  glasses  up,"  shouted  Tom  Brangwen  from  the 
parlour,  "lift  your  glasses  up,  an'  drink  to  the  hearth  an' 
home  —  hearth  an'  home,  an'  may  they  enjoy  it." 

"  Night  an'  day,  an'  may  they  enjoy  it,"  shouted  Frank 
Brangwen,  in  addition. 

"  Hammer  an'  tongs,  and  may  they  enjoy  it,"  shouted 
Alfred  Brangwen,  the  saturnine.  ' 

"  Fill  your  glasses  up,  an'  let's  have  it  all  over  again," 
shouted  Tom  Brangwen. 

"  Hearth  and  home,  an'  may  ye  enjoy  it." 

There  was  a  ragged  shout  of  the  company  in  response. 

"  Bed  an'  blessin',  an'  may  ye  enjoy  it,"  shouted  Frank 
Brangwen. 

There  was  a  swelling  chorus  in  answer. 

"  Comin'  and  goin',  an'  may  ye  enjoy  it,"  shouted  the 
saturnine  Alfred  Brangwen,  and  the  men  roared  by  now 
boldly,  and  the  women  said,  "  Just  hark,  now ! " 

There  was  a  touch  of  scandal  in  the  air. 

Then  the  party  rolled  off  in  the  carriages,  full  speed  back 
to  the  Marsh,  to  a  large  meal  of  the  high-tea  order,  which 
lasted  for  an  hour  and  a  half.  The  bride  and  bridegroom  sat 


WEDDING  AT  THE  MARSH  127 

at  the  head  of  the  table,  very  prim  and  shining  both  of  them, 
wordless,  whilst  the  company  raged  down  the  table. 

The  Brangwen  men  had  brandy  in  their  tea,  and  were  be- 
coming unmanageable.  The  saturnine  Alfred  had  glittering, 
unseeing  eyes,  and  a  strange,  fierce  way  of  laughing  that 
showed  his  teeth.  His  wife  glowered  at  him  and  jerked  her 
head  at  him  like  a  snake.  He  was  oblivious.  Frank  Brang- 
wen, the  butcher,  flushed  and  florid  and  handsome,  roared 
echoes  to  his  two  brothers.  Tom  Brangwen,  in  his  solid  fash- 
ion, was  letting  himself  go  at  last. 

These  three  brothers  dominated  the  whole  company.  Tom 
Brangwen  wanted  to  make  a  speech.  For  the  first  time  in  his 
life,  he  must  spread  himself  wordily. 

"  Marriage/'  he  began,  his  eyes  twinkling  and  yet  quite 
profound,  for  he  was  deeply  serious  and  hugely  amused  at  the 
same  time,  "Marriage,"  he  said,  speaking  in  the  slow,  full- 
mouthed  way  of  the  Brangwens,  "  is  what  we're  made 
for " 

"  Let  him  talk,"  said  Alfred  Brangwen,  slowly  and  inscrut- 
ably, "  let  him  talk."  Mrs.  Alfred  darted  indignant  eyes  at 
her  husband. 

"  A  man,"  continued  Tom  Brangwen,  "  enjoys  being  a  man : 
for  what  purpose  was  he  made  a  man,  if  not  to  enjoy  it?  " 

"  That  a  true  word,"  said  Frank,  floridly. 

"  And  likewise,"  continued  Tom  Brangwen,  "  a  woman  en- 
joys being  a  woman :  at  least  we  surmise  she  does " 

"  Oh,  don't  you  bother "  called  a  farmer's  wife. 

"  You  may  back  your  life  they'd  be  summisin',"  said 
Frank's  wife. 

"  Now,"  continued  Tom  Brangwen,  "  for  a  man  to  be  a 
man,  it  takes  a  woman ' 

"  It  does  that,"  said  a  woman  grimly. 

"  And  for  a  woman  to  be  a  woman,  it  takes  a  man " 

continued  Tom  Brangwen. 

"  All  speak  up,  men,"  chimed  in  a  feminine  voice. 

"  Therefore  we  have  marriage,"  continued  Tom  Brangwen. 

"  Hold,  hold,"  said  Alfred  Brangwen.  "  Don't  run  us  off 
our  legs." 

And  in  dead  silence  the  glasses  were  filled.  The  bride  and 
bridegroom,  two  children,  sat  with  intent,  shining  faces  at 
the  head  of  the  table,  abstracted. 

"  There's  no  marriage  in  heaven,"  went  on  Tom  Brang- 
wen ;  "  but  on  earth  there  is  marriage." 


128  THE  RAINBOW 

"  That's  the  difference  between  'em/'  said  Alfred  Brangwen, 
mocking. 

"  Alfred,"  said  Tom  Brangwen,  "  keep  your  remarks  till  aft- 
erwards, and  then  we'll  thank  you  for  them. —  There's  very 
little  else,  on  earth,  but  marriage.  You  can  talk  about  mak- 
ing money,  or  saving  souls.  You  can  save  your  own  soul 
seven  times  over,  and  you  may  have  a  mint  of  money,  but 
your  soul  goes  gnawin',  gnawin',  gnawin',  and  it. says  there's 
something  it  must  have.  In  heaven  there  is  no  marriage. 
But  on  earth  there  is  marriage,  else  heaven  drops  out,  and 
there's  no  bottom  to  it." 

"  Just  hark  you  now,"  said  Frank's  wife. 

"  Go  on,  Thomas,"  said  Alfred  sardonically. 

"If  we've  got  to  be  Angels,"  went  on  Tom  Brangwen, 
haranguing  the  company  at  large,  "  and  if  there  is  no  such 
thing  as  a  man  nor  a  woman  amongst  them,  then  it  seems 
to  me  as  a  married  couple  makes  one  Angel." 

"  It's  the  brandy,"  said  Alfred  Brangwen  wearily. 

"  For,"  said  Tom  Brangwen,  and  the  company  was  listening 
to  the  conundrum,  "  an  Angel  can't  be  less  than  a  human 
being.  And  if  it  was  only  the  soul  of  a  man  minus  the  man, 
then  it  would  be  less  than  a  human  being." 

"  Decidedly,"  said  Alfred. 

And  a  laugh  went  round  the  table.  But  Tom  Brangwen 
was  inspired. 

"  An  Angel's  got  to  be  more  than  a  human  being,"  he  con- 
tinued. "  So  I  say,  an  Angel  is  the  soul  of  man  and  woman 
in  one:  they  rise  united  at  the  Judgment  Day,  as  one 
Angel " " 

"  Praising  the  Lord,"  said  Frank. 

"Praising  the  Lord,"  repeated  Tom. 

"And  what  about  the  women  left  over?"  asked  Alfred, 
jeering.  The  company  was  getting  uneasy. 

"  That  I  can't  tell.  How  do  I  know  as  there  is  anybody 
left  over  at  the  Judgment  Day?  Let  that  be.  What  I  say 
is,  that  when  a  man's  soul  and  a  woman's  soul  unites  together 
—  that  makes  an  Angel 

"  I  dunno  about  souls.  I  know  as  one  plus  one  makes 
three,  sometimes,"  said  Frank.  But  he  had  the  laugh  to 
himself. 

"Bodies  and  souls,  it's  the  same,"  said  Tom. 

"  And  what  about  your  Missis,  who  was  married  afore  you 
knew  her  ?  "  asked  Alfred,  set  on  edge  by  this  discourse. 


WEDDING  AT  THE  MARSH 

fc  That  I  can't  tell  you.  If  I  am  to  become  an  Angel,  it'll 
be  my  married  soul,  and  not  my  single  soul.  It'll  not  be  the 
soul  of  me  when  I  was  a  lad:  for  I  hadn't  a  soul  as  would 
make  an  Angel  then." 

"  I  can  always  remember/'  said  Frank's  wife,  "  when  our 
Harold  was  bad,  he  did  nothink  but  see  an  angel  at  th'  back 
o'  th'  lookin'  glass.  '  Look,  mother/  'e  said,  i  at  that  angel ! ' 
'  Theer  isn't  no  angel,  my  duck/  I  said,  but  he  wouldn't  have 
it.  I  took  th'  lookin'  glass  off'n  th'  dressin'  table,  but  it 
made  no  difference.  He  kep'  on  savin'  it  was  there.  My 
word,  it  did  give  me  a  turn.  I  thought  for  sure  as  I'd  lost 
him." 

"  I  can  remember,"  said  another  man,  Tom's  sister's  hus- 
band, "  my  mother  gave  me  a  good  hidin'  once,  for  sayin'  I'd 
got  an  angel  up  my  nose.  She  seed  me  pokin',  an'  she  said: 
'  What  are  you  pokin'  at  your  nose  for  —  give  over.'  '  There's 
an  angel  up  it/  I  said,  an'  she  fetched  me  such  a  wipe.  But 
there  was.  We  used  to  call  them  thistle  things  (  angels '  as 
wafts  about.  An'  I'd  pushed  one  o'  these  up  my  nose,  for 
some  reason  or  other." 

"  It's  wonderful  what  children  will  get  up  their  noses,"  said 
Frank's  wife.  "  I  c'n  remember  our  Hemmie,  she  shoved 
one  o'  them  bluebell  things  out  o'  th'  middle  of  a  bluebell, 
what  they  call  '  candles/  up  her  nose,  and  oh,  we  had  some 
work !  I'd  seen  her  stickin'  'em  on  the  end  of  her  nose,  like, 
but  I  never  thought  she'd  be  so  soft  as  to  shove  it  right  up. 
She  was  a  gel  of  eight  or  more.  Oh,  my  word,  we  got  a 
crochet-hook  an'  I  don't  know  what  .  .  ." 

Tom  Brangwen's  mood  of  inspiration  began  to  pass  away. 
He  forgot  all  about  it,  and  was  soon  roaring  and  shouting 
with  the  rest.  Outside  the  wake  came,  singing  the  carols. 
They  were  invited  into  the  bursting  house.  They  had  two 
fiddles  and  a  piccolo.  There  in  the  parlour  they  played 
carols,  and  the  whole  company  sang  them  at  the  top  of  its 
voice.  Only  the  bride  and  bridegroom  sat  with  shining  eyes 
and  strange,  bright  faces,  and  scarcely  sang,  or  only  with  just 
moving  lips. 

The  wake  departed,  and  the  guysers  came.  There  was  loud 
applause,  and  shouting  and  excitement  as  the  old  mystery 
play  of  St.  George,  in  which  every  man  present  had  acted  as 
a  boy,  proceeded,  with  banging  and  thumping  of  club  and 
dripping  pan. 

"By  Jove,  I  got  a  crack  once,  when  I  was  playin'  Beelze- 


130  THE  RAINBOW 

bub,"  said  Tom  Brangwen,  his  eyes  full  of  water  with  laugh- 
ing. "  It  knocked  all  th'  sense  out  of  me  as  you'd  crack 
an  egg.  But  I  tell  you,  when  I  come  to,  I  played  Old  Johnny 
Eoger  with  St.  George,  I  did  that." 

He  was  shaking  with  laughter.  Another  knock  came  at 
the  door.  There  was  a  hush. 

"  It's  th'  cab/'  said  somebody  from  the  door. 

"  Walk  in,"  shouted  Tom  Brangwen,  and  a  red-faced  grin- 
ning man  entered. 

"  Now  you  two,  get  yourselves  ready  an'  off  to  blanket 
fair,"  shouted  Tom  Brangwen.  "  Strike  a  daisy,  but  if  you're 
not  off  like  a  blink  o'  lightnin',  you  shanna  go,  you  s'll  sleep 
separate." 

Anna  rose  silently  and  went  to  change  her  dress.  Will 
Brangwen  would  have  gone  out,  but  Tilly  came  with  his  hat 
and  coat.  The  youth  was  helped  on. 

"  Well,  here's  luck,  my  boy,"  shouted  his  father. 

"When  th'  fat's  in  th'  fire,  let  it  frizzle,"  admonished  his 
uncle  Frank. 

"  Fair  and  softly  does  'it,  fair  an'  softly  does  it,"  cried  his 
aunt,  Frank's  wife,  contrary. 

"  You  don't  want  to  fall  over  yourself,"  said  his  uncle  by 
marriage.  "  You're  not  a  bull  at  a  gate." 

"Let  a  man  have  his  own  road,"  said  Tom  Brangwen 
testily.  "  Don't  be  so  free  of  your  advice  —  it's  his  wedding 
this  time,  not  yours." 

"'E  won't  want  many  sign-posts,"  said  his  father. 
"There's  some  roads  a  man  has  to  be  led,  an'  there's  some 
roads  a  boss-eyed  man  can  only  follow  wi'  one  eye  shut.  But 
this  road  can't  be  lost  by  a  blind  man  nor  a  boss-eyed  man  nor 
a  cripple  —  and  he's  neither,  thank  God." 

"  Don't  you  be  so  sure  o'  your  walkin'  powers,"  cried  Frank's 
wife.  "  There's  many  a  man  gets  no  further  than  half-way, 
nor  can't  to  save  his  life,  let  him  live  for  ever." 

"  Why,  how  do  you  know  ?  "  said  Alfred. 

"  It's  plain  enough  in  th'  looks  o'  some,"  retorted  Lizzie, 
his  sister-in-law. 

The  youth  stood  with  a  faint,  half-hearing  smile  on  his 
face.  He  was  tense  and  abstracted.  These  things,  or  any- 
thing, scarcely  touched  him. 

Anna  came  down,  in  her  day  dress,  very  elusive.  She 
kissed  everybody,  men  and  women,  Will  Brangwen  shook 


.       WEDDING  AT  THE  MARSH  131 

hands  with  everybody,  kissed  his  mother,  who  began  to  cry, 
and  the  whole  party  went  surging  out  to  the  cab. 

The  young  couple  were  shut  up,  last  injunctions  shouted 
at  them. 

"  Drive  on/'  shouted  Tom  Brangwen. 

The  cab  rolled  off.  They  saw  the  light  diminish  under  the 
ash-trees.  Then  the  whole  party,  quietened,  went  indoors. 

"  They'll  have  three  good  fires  burning,"  said  Tom  Brang- 
wen, looking  at  his  watch.  "  I  told  Emma  to  make  'em  up  at 
nine,  an'  then  leave  the  door  on  th'  latch.  It's  only  half -past. 
They'll  have  three  fires  burning,  an'  lamps  lighted,  an'  Emma 
will  ha'  warmed  th'  bed  wi'  th'  warmin'  pan.  So  I  s'd  think 
they'll  be  all  right." 

The  party  was  much  quieter.  They  talked  of  the  young 
couple. 

"  She  said  she  didn't  want  a  servant  in,"  said  Tom  Brang- 
wen. "  The  house  isn't  big  enough,  she'd  always  have  the 
creature  under  her  nose.  Emma'll  do  what  is  wanted  of  her, 
an'  they'll  be  to  themselves." 

"  It's  best,"  said  Lizzie,  "  you're  more  free." 

The  party  talked  on  slowly.     Brangwen  looked  at  his  watch. 

"  Let's  go  an'  give  'em  a  carol,"  he  said.  "We  s'll  find  th' 
fiddles  at  the  Cock  an'  Eobin." 

"  Ay,  come  on,"  said  Frank. 

Alfred  rose  in  silence.  The  brother-in-law  and  one  of 
Will's  brothers  rose  also. 

The  five  men  went  out.  The  night  was  flashing  with  stars. 
Sirius  blazed  like  a  signal  at  the  side  of  the  hill,  Orion, 
stately  and  magnificent,  was  sloping  along. 

Tom  walked  with  his  brother,  Alfred.  The  men's  heelfe, 
rang  on  the  ground. 

"  It's  a  fine  night,"  said  Tom. 

"  Ay,"  said  Alfred. 

"  Nice  to  get  out." 

"Ay." 

The  brothers  walked  close  together,  the  bond  of  blood  strong 
between  them.  Tom  always  felt  very  much  the  junior  to 
Alfred. 

"  It's  a  long  while  since  you  left  home,"  he  said. 

"  Ay,"  said  Alfred.  "  I  thought  I  was  getting  a  bit  oldish 
—  but  I'm  not.  It's  the  things  you've  got  as  gets  worn  out, 
it's  not  you  yourself." 


132  THE  RAINBOW 

«  Why,  what's  worn  out  ?  " 

"  Most  folks  as  I've  anything  to  do  with  —  as  has  anything 
to  do  with  me.  They  all  break  down.  You've  got  to  go  on 
by  yourself,  if  it's  only  to  perdition.  There's  nobody  going 
alongside  even  there." 

Tom  Brangwen  meditated  this. 

"Maybe  you  was  never  broken  in/'  he  said. 

"  No,  I  never  was,"  said  Alfred  proudly. 

And  Tom  felt  his  elder  brother  despised  him  a  little.  He 
winced  under  it. 

"  Everybody's  got  a  way  of  their  own,"  he  said,  stubbornly. 
"  It's  only  a  dog  as  hasn't.  An'  them  as  can't  take  what  they 
give  an'  give  what  they  take,  they  must  go  by  themselves,  or 
get  a  dog  as'll  follow  'em." 

"  They  can  do  without  the  dog,"  said  his  brother.  And 
again  Tom  Brangwen  was  humble,  thinking  his  brother  was 
bigger  than  himself.  But  if  he  was,  he  was.  And  if  it  were 
finer  to  go  alone,  it  was :  he  did  not  want  to  go  for  all  that. 

They  went  over  the  field,  where  a  thin,  keen  wind  blew 
round  the  ball  of  the  hill,  in  the  starlight.  They  came  to 
the  stile,  and  to  the  side  of  Anna's  house.  The  lights  were 
out,  only  on  the  blinds  of  the  rooms  downstairs,  and  of  a 
bedroom  upstairs,  firelight  flickered. 

"  We'd  better  leave  'em  alone,"  said  Alfred  Brangwen. 

"Nay,  nay,"  said  Tom.  "We'll  carol  'em,  for  th'  last 
time." 

•  And  in  a  quarter  of  an  hour's  time,  eleven  silent,  rather 
tipsy  men  scrambled  over  the  wall,  and  into  the  garden  by 
the  yew-trees,  outside  the  windows  where  faint  firelight 
glowered  on  the  blinds.  'There  came  a  shrill  sound,  two  vio- 
lins and  a  piccolo  shrilling  on  the  frosty  air. 

"  In  the  fields  with  their  flocks  abiding."  A  commotion  of 
men's  voices  broke  out  singing  in  ragged  unison. 

Anna  Brangwen  had  started  up,  listening,  when  the  music 
began.  She  was  afraid. 

"It's  the  wake,"  he  whispered. 

She  remained  tense,  her  heart  beating  heavily,  possessed 
with  strange,  strong  fear.  Then  there  came  the  burst  of 
men's  singing,  rather  uneven.  She  strained  still,  listening. 
'  "  It's  Dad,"  she  said,  in  a  low  voice.  They  were  silent, 
listening.  , 

"  And  my  father,"  he  said. 

She   listened  still.     But  she  was  sure.     She   sank  down 


WEDDING  AT  THE  MARSH  133 

again  into  bed,  into  his  arms.  He  held  her  very  close,  kissing 
her.  The  hymn  rambled  on  outside,  all  the  men  singing  their 
best,  having  forgotten  everything  else  under  the  spell  of  the 
fiddles  and  the  tune.  The  firelight  glowed  against  the  dark- 
ness in  the  room.  Anna  could  hear  her  father  singing  with 
gusto. 

"  Aren't  they  silly,"  she  whispered. 

And  they  crept  closer,  closer  together,  hearts  beating  to 
one  another.  And  even  as  the  hymn  rolled  on,  they  ceased  to 
hear  it 


CHAPTER  VI 

ANNA  VICTKIX 

WILL  BRANGWEN"  had  some  weeks  of  holiday  after 
his  marriage,  so  the  two  took  their  honeymoon  in 
full  hands,,  alone  in  their  cottage  together. 

And  to  him,  as  the  days  went  by,  it  was  as  if  the 
heavens  had  fallen,  and  he  were  sitting  with  her  among  the 
ruins,  in  a  new  world,  everybody  else  buried,  themselves  two 
blissful  survivors,  with  everything  to  squander  as  they  would. 
At  first,  he  could  not  get  rid  of  a  culpable  sense  of  licence  on 
his  part.  Wasn't  there  some  duty  outside,  calling  him  and  he 
did  not  come  ? 

It  was  all  very  well  at  night,  when  the  doors  were  locked 
and  the  darkness  drawn  round  the  two  of  them.  Then  they 
were  the  only  inhabitants  of  the  visible  earth,  the  rest  were 
under  the  flood.  And  being  alone  in  the  world,  they  were 
a  law  unto  themselves,  they  could  enjoy  and  squander  and 
waste  like  conscienceless  gods. 

But  in  the  morning,  as  the  carts  clanked  by,  and  children 
shouted  down  the  lane;  as  the  hucksters  came  calling  their 
wares,  and  the  church  clock  struck  eleven,  and  he  and  she 
had  not  got  up  yet,  even  to  breakfast,  he  could  not  help  feeling 
guilty,  as  if  he  were  committing  a  breach  of  the  law  — 
ashamed  that  he  was  not  up  and  doing. 

"  Doing  what  ?  "  she  asked.  "  What  is  there  to  do  ?  You 
will  only  lounge  about/' 

Still,  even  lounging  about  was  respectable.  One  was  at 
least  in  connection  with  the  world,  then.  Whereas  now,  lying 
so  still  and  peacefully,  while  the  daylight  came  obscurely 
through  the  drawn  blind,  one  was  severed  from  the  world, 
one  shut  oneself  off  in  tacit  denial  o'f  the  world.  And  he 
was  troubled. 

But  it  was  so  sweet  and  satisfying  lying  there  talking 
desultorily  with  her.  It  was  sweeter  than  sunshine,  and  not 
so  evanescent.  It  was  even  irritating  the  way  the  church- 
clock  kept  on  chiming:  there  seemed  no  space  between  the 

134 


ANNA  VICTRIX  135 

hours,  just  a  moment,  golden  and  still,  whilst  she  traced  his 
features  with  her  finger-tips,  utterly  careless  and  happy,  and 
he  loved  her  to  do  it. 

But  he  was  strange  and  unused.  So  suddenly,  everything 
that  had  been  before  was  shed  away  and  gone.  One  day,  he 
was  a  bachelor,  living  with  the  world.  The  next  day,  he  was 
with  her,  as  remote  from  the  world  as  if  the  two  of  them  were 
buried  like  a  seed  in  darkness.  Suddenly,  like  a  chestnut 
falling  out  of  a  burr,  he  was  shed  naked  and  glistening  on  to 
a  soft,  fecund  earth,  leaving  behind  him  the  hard  rind  of 
worldly  knowledge  and  experience.  He  heard  it  in  the  huck- 
sters' cries,  the  noise  of  carts,  the  calling  of  children.  And  it 
was  all  like  the  hard,  shed  rind,  discarded.  Inside,  in  the 
softness  and  stillness  of  the  room,  was  the  naked  kernel,  that 
palpitated  in  silent  activity,  absorbed  in  reality. 

Inside  the  room  was  a  great  steadiness,  a  core  of  living 
eternity.  Only  far  outside,  at  tHe  rim,  went  on  the  noise  and 
the  destruction.  Here  at  the  centre  the  great  wheel  was  mo- 
tionless, centred  upon  itself.  Here  was  a  poised,  unflawed 
stillness  that  was  beyond  time,  because  it  remained  the  same, 
inexhaustible,  unchanging,  unexhausted. 

As  they  lay  close  together,  complete  and  beyond  the  touch 
of  time  or  change,  it  was  as  if  they  were  at  the  very  centre 
of  all  the  slow  wheeling  of  space  and  the  rapid  agitation  of 
life,  deep,  deep  inside  them  all,  at  the  centre  where  there  is 
utter  radiance,  and  eternal  being,  and  the  silence  absorbed  in 
praise:  the  steady  core  of  all  movements,  the  unawakened 
sleep  of  all  wakefulness.  They  found  themselves  there,  and 
they  lay  still,  in  each  other's  arms;  for  their  moment  they 
were  at  the  heart  of  eternity,  whilst  time  roared  far  off,  for- 
ever far  off,  towards  the  rim. 

Then  gradually  they  were  passed  away  from  the  supreme 
centre,  down  the  circles  pf  praise  and  joy  and  gladness, 
further  and  further  out,  towards  the  noise  and  the  friction. 
But  their  hearts  had  burned  and  were  tempered  by  the  inner 
reality,  they  were  unalterably  glad. 

Gradually  they  began  to  wake  up,  the  noises  outside  became 
more  real.  They  understood  and  answered  the  call  outside. 
They  counted  the  strokes  of  the  bell.  And  when  they  counted 
midday,  they  understood  that  it  was  midday,  in  the  world,  and 
for  themselves  also. 

It  dawned  upon  her  that  she  was  hungry.  She  had  been 
getting  hungrier  for  a  lifetime.  But  even  yet  it  was  not  suffi- 


136  THE  RAINBOW 

ciently  real  to  rouse  her.  A  long  way  off  she  could  hear  the 
words,  "  I  am  dying  of  hunger."  Yet  she  lay  still,  separate, 
at  peace,  and  the  words  were  unuttered.  There  was  still  an- 
other lapse. 

And  then,  quite  calmly,  even  a  little  surprised,  she  was  in 
the  present,  and  was  saying: 

"I  am  dying  with  hunger." 

"  So  am  I,"  he  said  calmly,  as  if  it  were  of  not  the  slightest 
significance.  And  they  relapsed  into  the  warm,  golden  still- 
ness. And  the  minutes  flowed  unheeded  past  the  window  out- 
side. 

Then  suddenly  she  stirred  against  him. 

"  My  dear,  I  am  dying  of  hunger,"  she  said. 
:  It  was  a  slight  pain  to  him  to  be  brought  to. 

*'  We'll  get  up,"  he  said,  unmoving. 

And  she  sank  her  head  on  to  him  again,  and  they  lay  still, 
lapsing.  Half  consciously,  he  heard  the  clock  chime  the  hour. 
She  did  not  hear. 

"  Do  get  up,"  she  murmured  at  length,  "  and  give  me 
something  to  eat." 

"  Yes,"  he  said,  and  he  put  his  arms  round  her,  and  she  lay 
with  her  face  on  him.  They  were  faintly  astonished  that  they 
did  not  move.  The  minutes  rustled  louder  at  the  window. 

"  Let  me  go  then,"  he  said. 

She  lifted  her  head  from  him,  relinquishingly.  With  a 
little  breaking  away,  he  moved  out  of  bed,  and  was  taking  his 
clothes.  She  stretched  out  her  hand  to  him. 

"  You  are  so  nice,"  she  said,  and  he  went  back  for  a  moment 
or  two. 

Then  actually  he  did  slip  into  some  clothes,  and,  looking 
round  quickly  at  her,  was  gone  out  of  the  room.  She  lay 
translated  again  into  a  pale,  clearer  peace.  As  if  she  were 
a  spirit,  she  listened  to  the  noise  of  him  downstairs,  as  if 
she  were  no  longer  of  the  material  world. 

It  was  half  past  one.  He  looked  at  the  silent  kitchen, 
untouched  from  last  night,  dim  with  the  drawn  blind.  And 
he  hastened  to  draw  up  the  blind,  so  people  should  know 
they  were  not  in  bed  any  later.  Well,  it  was  his  own  house, 
it  did  not  matter.  Hastily  he  put  wood  in  the  grate  and 
made  a  fire.  He  exulted  in  himself,  like  an  adventurer  on 
an  undiscovered  island.  The  fire  blazed  up,  he  put  on  the 
kettle.  How  happy  he  felt!  How  still  and  secluded  the 
house  was !  There  were  only  he  and  she  in  the  world. 


ANNA  VICTEIX  137 

•  But  when  he  unbolted  the  door,  and,  half-dressed,  looked 
out,  he  felt  furtive  and  guilty.  The  world  was  there,  after 
all.  And  he  had  felt  so  secure,  as  though  this  house  were 
the  Ark  in  the  flood,  and  all  the  rest  was  drowned.  The 
world  was  there:  and  it  was  afternoon.  The  morning  had 
vanished  and  gone  by,  the  day  was  growing  old.  Where 
was  the  bright,  fresh  morning?  He  was  accused.  Was  the 
morning  gone,  and  he  had  lain  with  blinds  drawn,  let  it  pass 
by  unnoticed  ? 

He  looked  again  round  the  chill,  grey  afternoon.  And  he 
himself  so  soft  and  warm  and  glowing!  There  were  two 
sprigs  of  yellow  jasmine  in  the  saucer  that  covered  the  milk- 
jug.  He  wondered  who  had  been  and  left  the  sign.  Taking 
the  jug,  he  hastily  shut  the  door.  Let  the  day  and  the  day- 
light drop  out,  let  it  go  by  unseen.  He  did  not  care.  What 
did  one  day  more  or  less  matter  to  him.  It  could  fall  into 
•oblivion  unspent  if  it  liked,  this  one  course  of  daylight. 

"  Somebody  has  been  and  found  the  door  locked,"  he  said 
when  he  went  upstairs  with  the  tray.  He  gave  her  the  two 
sprigs  of  jasmine.  She  laughed  as  she  sat  up  in  bed,  child- 
ishly threading  the  flowers1  in  the  breast  of  her  nightdress. 
Her  brown  hair  stuck  out  like  a  nimbus,  all  fierce,  round  her 
softly  glowing  face.  Her  dark  eyes  watched  the  tray  eagerly. 

"  How  good !  "  she  cried,  sniffing  the  cold  air.  "  I'm  glad 
you  did  a  lot."  And  she  stretched  out  her  hands  eagerly 
for  her  plate  — "  Come  back  to  bed,  quick  —  it's  cold."  She 
rubbed  her  hands  together  sharply. 

He  sat  beside  her  in  the  bed. 

"  You  look  like  a  lion,  with  your  mane  sticking  out,  and 
your  nose  pushed  over  your  food,"  he  said. 

She  tinkled  with  laughter,  and  gladly  ate  her  breakfast. 

The  morning  was  sunk  away  unseen,  the  afternoon  was 
steadily  going  too,  and  he  was  letting  it  go.  One  bright  transit 
of  daylight  gone  by  unacknowledged !  There  was  something 
unmanly,  recusant  in  it.  He  could  not  quite  reconcile  him- 
self to  the  fact.  He  felt  he  ought  to  get  up,  go  out  quickly  into 
•  the  daylight,  and  work  or  spend  himself  energetically  in  the 
open  air  of  the  afternoon,  retrieving  what  was  left  to  him 
of  the  day. 

But  he  did  not  go.  Well,  one  might  as  well  be  hung  for  a 
sheep  as  for  a  lamb.  If  he  had  lost  this  day  of  his  life,  he 
had  lost  it.  He  gave  it  up.  He  was  not  going  to  count 
his  losses.  She  didn't  care.  She  didn't  care  in  the  least. 


138  THE  RAINBOW 

Then  why  should  he?  Should  he  be  behind  her  in  reckless 
ness  and  independence?  She  was  superb  in  her  indifference. 
He  wanted  to  be  like  her. 

•  She  took  her  responsibilities  lightly.  When  she  spilled 
her  tea  on  the  pillow,  she  rubbed  it  carelessly  with  a  hand- 
kerchief, and  turned  over  the  pillow.  He  would  have  felt 
guilty.  She  did  not.  And  it  pleased  him.  It  pleased  him 
very  much  to  see  how  these  things  did  not  matter  to  her. 

When  the  meal  was  over,  she  wiped  her  mouth  on  her 
handkerchief  quickly,  satisfied  and  happy,  and  settled  down 
on  the  pillow  again,  with  her  fingers  in  his  close,  strange, 
fur-like  hair. 

The  evening  began  to  fall,  the  light  was  half  alive,  livid. 
He  hid  his  face  against  her. 

"  I  don't  like  the  twilight,"  he  said. 

"  I  love  it,"  she  answered. 

He  hid  his  face  against  her,  who  was  warm  and  like  sun-- 
light.  She  seemed  to  have  sunlight  inside  her.  Her  heart 
beating  seemed  like  sunlight  upon  him.  In  her  was  a  more 
real  day  than  the  day  could  give :  so  warm  and  steady  and 
restoring.  He  hid  his  face  against  her  whilst  the  twilight 
fell,  whilst  she  lay  staring  out  with  her  unseeing  dark  eyes, 
as  if  she  wandered  forth  untrammelled  in  the 
The  vagueness  gave  her  scope  and  set  her  free. 

To  him,  turned  towards  her  heart-pulse,  all  was  very  still 
and  very  warm  and  very  close,  like  noon-tide.  He  was  glad 
to  know  this  warm,  full  noon.  It  ripened  him  and  took  away 
his  responsibility,  some  of  his  conscience. 

They  got  up  when  it  was  quite  dark.  She  hastily  twisted 
her  hair  into  a  knot,  and  was  dressed  in  a  twinkling.  Then 
they  went  downstairs,  drew  to  the  fire,  and  sat  in  silence, 
saying  a  few  words  now  and  then. 

Her  father  was  coming.  She  bundled  the  dishes  away, 
flew  round  and  tidied  the  room,  assumed  another  character, 
and  again  seated  herself.  He  sat  thinking  of  his  carving  oi 
Eve.  He  loved  to  go  over  his  carving  in  his  mind,  dwelling 
on  every  stroke,  every  line.  How  he  loved  it  .now !  Wh( 
he  went  back  to  his  Creation-panel  again,  he  would  finish 
Eve,  tender  and  sparkling.  It  did  not  satisfy  him  yet.  Th< 
Lord  should  labour  over  her  in  a  silent  passion  of  Creatioi 
and  Adam  should  be  tense  as  if  in  a  dream  of  immortality, 
and  Eve  should  take  form  glimmeringly,  shadowily,  as  i 


ANNA  VICTRIX  139 

the  Lord  must  wrestle  with  His  own  soul  for  her,  yet  she  was 
a  radiance. 

"  What  are  you  thinking  about  ?  "  she  asked. 

He  found  it  difficult  to  say.  His  soul  became  shy  when 
he  tried  to  communicate  it. 

"  I  was  thinking  my  Eve  was  too  hard  and  lively." 

"Why?" 

•"I  don't  know.     She  should  be  more ,"  he  made  a 

gesture  of  infinite  tenderness. 

There  was  a  stillness  with  a  little  joy.  He  could  not  tell 
her  any  more.  Why  could  he  not  tell  her  any  more?  She 
felt  a  pang  of  disconsolate  sadness.  But  it  was  nothing. 
She  went  to  him. 

Her  father  came,  and  found  them  both  very  glowing,  like 
an  open  flower.  He  loved  to  sit  with  them.  Where  there 
was  a  perfume  of  love,  any  one  who  came  must  breathe  it. 
They  were  both  very  quick  and  alive,  lit  up  from  the  other- 
world,  so  that  it  was  quite  an  experience  for  them,  that 
any  one  else  could  exist. 

But  still  it  troubled  Will  Brangwen  a  little,  in  his  orderly, 
conventional  mind,  that  the  established  rule  of  things  had 
gone  so  utterly.  One  ought  to  get  up  in  the  morning  and 
wash  oneself  and  be  a  decent  social  being.  Instead,  the 
two  of  them  stayed  in  bed  till  nightfall,  and  then  got  up, 
she  never  washed  her  face,  but  sat  there  talking  to  her  father 
as  bright  and  shameless  as  a  daisy  opened  out  of  the  dew. 
Or  she  got  up  at  ten  o'clock,  and  quite  blithely  went  to  bed 
again  at  three,  or  at  half-past  four,  stripping  him  naked  in 
the  daylight,  and  all  so  gladly  and  perfectly,  oblivious  quite 
of  his  qualms.  He  let  her  do  as  she  liked  with  him,  and 
shone  with  strange  pleasure.  She  was  to  dispose  of  him  as. 
she  would.  He  was  translated  with  gladness  to  be  in  her 
hands.  And  down  went  his  qualms,  his  maxims,  his  rules,  hig 
smaller  beliefs,  she  scattered  them  like  an  expert  skittle- 
player.  He  was  very  much  astonished  and  delighted  to  see 
them  scatter. 

He  stood  and  gazed  and  grinned  with  wonder  whilst  hib 
Tablets  of  Stone  went  bounding  and  bumping  and  splintering 
down  the  hill,  dislodged  for  ever.  Indeed,  it  was  true  as  they 
said,  that  a  man  wasn't  born  before  he  was  married.  What 
a  change  indeed ! 

He  surveyed  the  rind  of  the  world :  houses,  factories,  trams. 


146  THE  RAINBOW 

the  discarded  rind ;  people  scurrying  about,  work  going  on,  all 
on  the  discarded  surface.  An  earthquake  had  burst  it  all  from 
inside.  It  was  as  if  the  surface  of  the  world  had  been  broken 
away  entire:  Ilkeston,  streets,  church,  people,  work,  rule-of- 
the-day,  all  intact ;  and  yet  peeled  away  into  unreality,  leaving 
here  exposed  the  inside,  the  reality :  one's  own  being,  strange 
feelings  and  passions  and  yearnings  and  beliefs  and  aspira- 
tions, suddenly  become  present,  revealed,  the  permanent  bed- 
rock, knitted  one  rock  with  the  woman  one  loved.  It  was 
confounding.  Things  are  not  what  they  seem  !x  When  he  was 
a  child,  he  had  thought  a  woman  was  a  woman  merely  by 
virtue  of  her  skirts  and  petticoats.  And  now,  lo,  the  whole 
world  could  be  divested  of  its  garment,  the  garment  could  lie 
there  shed  away  intact,  and  one  could  stand  in  a  new  world, 
a  new  earth,  naked  in  a  new,  naked  universe.  It  was  too 
astounding  and  miraculous.  • 

This  then  was  marriage !  The  old  things  didn't  matter 
any  more.  One  got  up  at  four  o'clock,  and  had  broth  at 
teatime  and  made  toffee  in  the  middle  of  the  night.  One 
didn't  put  on  one's  clothes  or  one  did  put  on  one's  clothes. 
He  still  was  not  quite  sure  it  was  not  criminal.  But  it  was 
a  discovery  to  find  one  might  be  so  supremely  absolved. 
All  that  mattered  was  that  he  should  love  her  and  she  should 
love  him  and  they  should  live  kindled  to  one  another,  like 
the  Lord  in  two  burning  bushes  that  were  not  consumed. 
And  so  they  lived  for  the  time. 

She  was  less  hampered  than  he,  so  she  came  more  quickly 
to  her  fulness,  and  was  sooner  ready  to  enjoy  again  a  return 
to  the  outside  world.  She  was  going  to  give  a  tea-party. 
His  heart  sank.  He  wanted  to  go  on,  to  go  on  as  they  were. 
He  wanted  to  have  done  with  the  outside  world,  to  declare 
it  finished  for  ever.  He  was  anxious  with  a  deep  desire  and 
anxiety  that  she  should  stay  with  him  where  they  were  in  the 
timeless  universe  of  free,  perfect  limbs  and  immortal  breast, 
affirming  that  the  old  ontward  order  was  finished.  The  new 
order  was  begun  to  last  for  ever,  the  living  life,  palpitating 
from  the  gleaming  core,  to  action,  without  crust  or  cover  01 
outward  lie.  But  no,  he  could  not  keep  her.  She  wanted  the 
dead  world  again  —  she  wanted  to  walk  on  the  outside  on< 
more.  She  was  going  to  give  a  tea-party.  It  made  hii 
frightened  and  furious  and  miserable.  He  was  afraid 
would  be  lost  that  he  had  so  newly  come  into :  like  the  youtl 
in  the  fairy  tale,  who  was  king  for  one  day  in  the  year, 


ANNA  VICTRIX  141 

for  the  rest  a  beaten  herd :  like  Cinderella  also,  at  the  feast, 
He  was  sullen.  But  she  blithely  begai?  to  make  preparation 
for  her  tea-party.  His  fear  was  too  strong,  he  was  troubled, 
he  hated  her  shallow  anticipation  and  joy.  Was  she  not  for- 
feiting the  reality,  the  one  reality,  for  all  that  was  shallow  and 
worthless?  Wasn't  she  carelessly  taking  off  her  crown  to  be 
an  artificial  figure  having  other  artificial  women  to  tea :  when 
she  might  have  been  perfect  with  him,  and  kept  him  perfect,  in 
the  land  of  intimate  connection?  Now  he  must  be  deposed, 
his  joy  must  be  destroyed,  he  must  put  on  the  vulgar,  shallow 
death  of  an  outward  existence. 

He  ground  his  soul  in  uneasiness  and  fear.  But  she  rose 
to  a  real  outburst  of  house-work,  turning  him  away  as  she 
shoved  the  furniture  aside  to  her  broom.  He  stood  hanging 
miserable  near.  He  wanted  her  back.  Dread,  and  desire 
for  her  to  stay  with  him,  and  shame  at  his  own  dependence 
on  her  drove  him  to  anger.  He  began  to  lose  his  head.  The 
wonder  was  going  to  pass  away  again.  All  the  love,  the 
magnificent  new  order  was  going  to  be  lost,  she  would  forfeit 
it  all  for  the  outside  things.  She  would  admit  the  outside 
world  again,  she  would  throw  away  the  living  fruit  for  the 
ostensible  rind.  He  began  to  hate  this  in  her.  Driven  by 
fear  of  her  departure  into  a  state  of  helplessness,  almost  of 
imbecility,  he  wandered  about  the  house. 

And  she,  with  her  skirts  kilted  up,  flew  round  at  her  work, 
absorbed. 

"  Shake  the  rug  then,  if  you  must  hang  round,"  she  said. 

And  fretting  with  resentment,  he  went  to 'shake  the  rug. 
She  was  blithely  unconscious  of  him.  He  came  back,  hanging 
near  to  her. 

"  Can't  you  do  anything  ?  "  she  said,  as  if  to  a  child,  im- 
patiently. "  Can't  you  do  your  wood-work  ?  " 

"  Where  shall  I  do  it  ?  "  he  asked,  harsh  with  pain. 

"  Anywhere." 

How  furious  that  made  him. 

"  Or  go  for  a  walk,"  she  continued.  "  Go  down  to  the 
Marsh.  Don't  hang  about  as  if  you  were  only  half  there." 

He  winced  and  hated  it.  He  went  away  to  read.  Never 
had  his  soul  felt  so  flayed  and  uncreated. 

And  soon  he  must  come  down  again  to  her.  His  hovering 
near  her,  wanting  her  to  be  with  him,  the  futility  of  him,  the 
way  his  hands  hung,  irritated  her  beyond  bearing.  She  turned 
on  him  blindly  and  destructively,  he  became  a  mad  creature, 


142  THE  RAINBOW 

black  and  electric  with  fury.  The  dark  storms  rose  in  him,  MB 
eyes  glowed  black  and  evil,  he  was  fiendish  in  his  thwarted 
soul. 

There  followed  two  black  and  ghastly  days,  when  she  was 
set  in  anguish  against  him,  and  he  felt  as  if  he  were  in  a  black, 
violent  underworld,  and  his  wrists  quivered  murderously. 
And  she  resisted  him.  He  seemed  a  dark,  almost  evil  thing, 
pursuing  her,  hanging  on  to  her,  burdening  her.  She  would 
give  anything  to  have  him  removed. 

"You  need  some  work  to  do,"  she  said.  "You  ought  to 
be  at  work.  Can't  you  do  something  ?  " 

His  soul  only  grew  the  blacker.  His  condition  now  became 
complete,  the  darkness  of  his  soul  was  thorough.  Every- 
thing had  gone :  he  remained  complete  in  his  own  tense,  black 
will.  He  was  now  unaware  of  her.  She  did  not  exist.  His 
dark,  passionate  soul  had  recoiled  upon  itself,  and  now, 
clinched  and  coiled  round  a  centre  of  hatred,  existed  in  its  own 
power.  There  was  a  curiously  ugly  pallor,  an  expressionless- 
ness  in  his  face.  She  shuddered  from  him.  She  was  afraid 
of  him.  His  will  seemed  grappled  upon  her. 

She  retreated  before  him.  She  went  down  to  the  Marsh, 
she  entered  again  the  immunity  of  her  parents'  love  for  her. 
He  remained  at  Yew  Cottage,  black  and  clinched,  his  mind 
dead.  He  was  unable  to  work  at  his  wood-carving.  He  went 
on  working  monotonously  at  the  garden,  blindly,  like  a  mole. 

As  she  came  home,  up  the  hill,  looking  away  at  the  town 
dim  and  blue  on  the  hill,  her  heart  relaxed  and  became 
yearning.  She-  did  not  want  to  fight  him  any  more.  She 
wanted  love  —  oh,  love.  Her  feet  began  to  hurry.  She 
wanted  to  get  back  to  him.  Her  heart  became  tight  with 
yearning  for  him. 

He  had  been  making  the  garden  in  order,  cutting  the  edges 
of  the  turf,  laying  the  path  with  stones.  He  was  a  good, 
capable  workman. 

"  How  nice  you've  made  it,"  she  said,  approaching  tenta- 
tively down  the  path. 

But  he  did  not  heed,  he  did  not  hear.  His  brain  was  solu 
and  dead. 

"  Haven't  you  made  it  nice  ?  "  she  repeated,  rather  plain- 
tively. 

He  looked  up  at.  her,  with  that  fixed,  expressionless  fac 
and  unseeing  eyes  which  shocked  her,  made  her  go  dazed  am 
blind.     Then  he  turned  away.     She  saw  his  slender,  stooping 


ANNA  VICTRIX  1*5 

figure  groping.     A  revulsion  came  over  her.     She  went  in- 
doors. 

As  she  took  off  her  hat  in  the  bedroom,  she  found  herself 
weeping  bitterly,  with  some  of  the  old,  anguished,  childish 
desolation.  She  sat  still  and  cried  on.  She  did  not  want 
him  to  know.  She  was  afraid  of  his  hard,  evil  movements,  the 
head  dropped  a  little,  rigidly,  in  a  crouching,  cruel  way.  She 
was  afraid  of  him.  He  seemed  to  lacerate  her  sensitive  fe- 
maleness.  He  seemed  to  hurt  her  womb,  to  take  pleasure  in 
torturing  her. 

He  came  into  the  house.  The  sound  of  his  footsteps  in  hif 
heavy  boots  filled  her  with  horror :  a  hard,  cruel,  malignant 
sound.  She  was  afraid  he  would  come  upstairs.  But  he 
did  not.  She  waited  apprehensively.  He  went  out. 

Where  she  was  most  vulnerable,  he  hurt  her.  Oh,  where 
she  was  delivered  over  to  him,  in  her  very  soft  femaleness, 
he  seemed  to  lacerate  her  and  desecrate  her.  She  pressed 
her  hands  over  her  womb  in  anguish,  whilst  the  tears  ran 
down  her  face.  And  why,  and  why?  Why  was  he  like  this? 
^  Suddenly  she  dried  her  tears.  She  must  get  the  tea  ready. 
She  went  downstairs  and  set  the  table.  When  the  meal  was 
ready,  she  called  to  him. 

"  I've  mashed  the  tea,  Will,  are  you  coming  ?  " 

She  herself  could  hear  the  sound  of  tears  in  her  own  voice, 
and  she  began  to  cry  again.  He  did  not  answer,  but  went 
on  with  his  work.  She  waited  a  few  minutes,  -in  anguish. 
Fear  came  over  her,  she  was  panic-stricken  with  terror,  like 
a  child ;  and  she  could  not  go  home  again  to  her  father ;  she 
was  held  by  the  power  in  this  man  who  had  taken  her. 

She  turned  indoors  so  that  he  should  not  see  her  tears. 
She  sat  down  to  table.  Presently  he  came  into  the  scullery. 
His  movements  jarred  on  her,  as  she  heard  them.  How 
horrible  was  the  way  he  pumped,  exacerbating,  so  cruel! 
How  she  hated  to  hear  him !  How  he  hated  her !  How  his 
hatred  was  like  blows  upon  her!  The  tears  were  coming 
again. 

He  came  in,  his  face  wooden  and  lifeless,  fixed,  persistent, 
He  sat  down  to  tea,  his  head  dropped  over  his  cup,  uglily. 
His  hands  were  red  from  the  cold  water,  and  there  were 
rims  of  earth  in  his  nails.  He  went  on  with  his  tea. 

It  was  his  negative  insensitiveness  to  her  that  she  could 
not  bear,  something  clayey  and  ugly.  His  intelligence  was 
self-absorbed.  How  unnatural  it  was  to  sit  with  a  self-ab- 


THE  RAINBOW 

sorbed  creature,  like  something  negative  ensconced  opposite 
one.  Nothing  could  touch  him  —  he  could  only  absorb  things 
into  his  own  self. 

The  tears  were  running  down  her  face.  Something  startled 
him,  and  he  was  looking  up  at  her  with  his  hateful,  hard, 
bright  eyes,  hard  and  unchanging  as  a  bird  of  prey. 

"  What  are  you  crying  for  ?  "  came  the  grating  voice. 

She  winced  through  her  womb.     She  could  not  stop  crying 

"What  are  you  crying  for?"  came  the  question  again,  in 
just  the  same  tone.  And  still  there  was  silence,  with  only  th€ 
sniff  of 'her  tears. 

His  eyes  glittered,  and  as  if  with  malignant  desire.  She 
shrank  and  became  blind.  She  was  like  a  bird  being  beaten 
down.  A  sort  of  swoon  of  helplessness  came  over  her.  She 
was  of  another  order  than  he,  she  had  no  defence  against  him 
Against  such  an  influence,  she  was  only  vulnerable,  she  was 
given  up. 

He  rose  and  went  out  of  the  house,  possessed  by  the  evi 
spirit.  It  tortured  him  and  wracked  him,  and  fought  in 
him.  And  whilst  he  worked,  in  the  deepening  twilight,  i 
left  him.  Suddenly  he  saw  that  she  was  hurt.  He  hac 
only  seen  her  triumphant  before.  Suddenly  his  heart  was 
torn  with  compassion  for  her.  He  became  alive  again,  in 
an  anguish  of  compassion.  He  could  not  bear  to  think 
her  tears  —  he  could  not  bear  it.  He  wanted  to  go  to  her 
and  pour  out  his  heart's  blood  to  her.  He  wanted  to  give 
everything  to  her,  all  his  blood,  his  life,  to  the  last  dregs, 
pour  everything  away  to  her.  He  yearned  with  passionate 
desire  to  offer  himself  to  her,  utterly. 

The  evening  star  came,  and  the  night.  She  had  not  lighted 
the  lamp.  His  heart  burned  with  pain  and  with  grief.  He 
trembled  to  go  to  her. 

And  at  last  he  went,  hesitating,  burdened  with  a  great 
offering.  The  hardness  had  gone  out  of  him,  his  body  was 
sensitive,  slightly  trembling.  His  hand  was .  curiously  sensi- 
tive, shrinking,  as  he  shut  the  door.  He  fixed  the  iatch  almc 
'.enderly. 

In  the  kitchen  was  only  the  fireglow,  he  could  not  see  her. 
He  quivered  with  dread  lest  she  had  gone  —  he  knew 
where.  In  shrinking  dread,  he  went  through  to  the  parlour., 
to  the  foot  of  the  stairs. 

«  Anna,"  he  called. 

There  was  no  answer.    He  went  up  the  stairs,  in  dread  of 


ANNA  VICTRIX  145 

the  empty  house  —  the  horrible  emptiness  that  made  his  heart 
ring  with  insanity.  He  opened  the  bedroom  door,  and  his 
heart  flashed  with  certainty  that  she  had  gone,  that  he  was 
alone. 

But  he  saw  her  on  the  bed,  lying  very  still  and  scarcely 
noticeable,  with  her  back  to  him.  He  went  and  put  his  hand 
on  her  shoulder,  very  gently,  hesitating,  in  a  great  fear  and 
self-offering.  She  did  not  move.  He  waited.  The  hand 
that  touched  her  shoulder  hurt  him,  as  if  she  were  sending 
it  away.  He  stood  dim  with  pain. 

"  Anna,"  he  said. 

But  still  she  was  motionless,  like  a  curled  up,  oblivious 
creature.  His  heart  beat  with  strange  throes  of  pain.  Then, 
by  a  motion  under  his  hand,  he  knew  she  was  crying,  holding 
herself  hard  so  that  her  tears  should  not  be  known.  He 
waited.  The  tension  continued  —  perhaps  she  was  not  crying 
—  then  suddenly  relapsed  with  a  sharp  catch  of  a  sob.  His 
heart  flamed  with  love  and  suffering  for  her.  Kneeling  care- 
fully on  the  bed,  so  that  his  earthy  boots  should  not  touch  it,  he 
took  her  in  his  arms  to  comfort  her.  The  sobs  gathered  in 
her,  she  was  sobbing  bitterly.  But  not  to  him.  She  was  still 
away  from  him. 

He  held  her  against  his  breast,  whilst  she  sobbed,  withheld 
from  him,  and  all  his  body  vibrated  against  her. 

"  Don't  cry  —  don't  cry/'  he  said,  with  an  odd  simplicity. 
His  heart  was  calm  and  numb  with  a  sort  of  innocence  of 
love,  now. 

She  still  sobbed,  ignoring  him,  ignoring  that  he  held  her. 
His  lips  were  dry. 

"  Don't  cry,  my  love,"  he  said,  in  the  same  abstract  way. 
In  his  breast  his  heart  burned  like  a  torch,  with  suffering. 
He  could  not  bear  the  desolateness  of  her  crying.  He  would 
have  soothed  her  with  his  blood.  He  heard  the  church  clock 
chime,  as  if  it  touched  him,  and  he  waited  in  suspense  for  it 
to  have  gone  by.  It  was  quiet  again. 

"  My  love,"  he  said  to  her,  bending  to  touch  her  wet  face 
with  his  mouth.  He  was  afraid  to  touch  her.  How  wet  her 
face  was!  His  body  trembled  as  he  held  her.  He  loved 
her  till  he  felt  his  heart  and  all  his  veins  would  burst  and 
flood  her  with  his  hot,  healing  blood.  He  knew  his  blood 
would  heal  and  restore  her. 

She  was  becoming  quieter.  .  He  thanked  the  God  of  mercy 
that  at  last  she  was  becoming  quieter..  His  head  felt  so 


146  THE  RAINBOW 

.strange  and  blazed.  Still  he  held  her  close,  with  trembling 
arms.  His  blood  seemed  very  strong,  enveloping  her. 

And  at  last  she  began  to  draw  near  to  him,  she  nestled  to 
him.  His  limbs,  his  body,  took  fire  and  beat  up  in  flames. 
She  clung  to  him,  she  cleaved  to  his  body.  The  flames  swept 
him,  he  held  her  in  sinews  of  fire.  If  she  would  kiss  him! 
He  bent  his  mouth  down.  And  her  mouth,  soft  and  moist, 
received  him.  He  felt  his  veins  would  burst  with  anguish  of 
thankfulness,  his  heart  was  mad  with  gratefulness,  he  could 
pour  himself  out  upon  her  for  ever. 

When  they  came  to  themselves,  the  night  was  very  dark. 
Two  hours  had  gone  by.  They  lay  still  and  warm  and  weak, 
tike  the  new-born,  together.  And  there  was  a  silence  almost 
</  Oie  unborn.  Only  his  heart  was  weeping  happily,  after 
.ne  pain.  He  did  not  understand,  he  had  yielded,  given  way. 
There  was  no  understanding.  There  could  be  only  acquies- 
cence and  submission,  and  tremulous  wonder  of  consumma- 
tion. 

The  next  morning,  when  they  woke  up,  it  had  snowed.  He 
wondered  what  was  the  strange  pallor  in  the  air,  and  the 
unusual  tang.  Snow  was  on  the  grass  and  the  window-sill, 
it  weighed  down  the  black,  ragged  branches  of  the  yews,  and 
smoothed  the  graves  in  the  churchyard. 

Soon,  it  began  to  snow  again,  and  they  were  shut  in.  He 
was  glad,  for  then  they  were  immune  in  a  shadowy  silence, 
there  was  no  world,  no  time. 

The  snow  lasted  for  some  days.  On  the  Sunday  they 
*vent  to  church.  They  made  a  line  of  footprints  across  the 
garden,  he  left  a  flat  snowprint  of  his  hand  on  the  wall  as 
he  vaulted  over,  they  traced  the  snow  across  the  churchyard. 
For  three  days  they  had  been  immune  in  a  perfect  love. 

There  were  very  few  people  in  church,  and  she  was  glad. 
She  did  not  care  much  for  church.  She  had  never  questioned 
any  beliefs,  and  she  was,  from  habit  and  custom,  a  regular 
attendant  at  morning  service.  But  she  had  ceased  to  come 
With  any  anticipation.  To-day,  however,  in  the  strangeness 
of  snow,  after  such  consummation  of  love/ she  felt  expectant 
a^ain,  and  delighted.  She  was  still  in  the  eternal  world. 

She  used,  after  she  went  tc  the  High  School,  and  wanted 
to  be  a  lady,  wanted  to  fulfil  some  mysterious  ideal,  always 
to  listen  to  the  sermon  and  to  try  to  gather  suggestions. 
That  was  all  very  well  for  a  while.  The  vicar  told  her  to  be 


ANNA  VICTRIX  147 

good  in  this  way  and  in  that.     She  went  away  feeling  it  was 
her  highest  aim  to  fulfil  these  injunctions. 

But  quickly  this  palled.  After  a  short  time,  she  was  not 
very  much  interested  in  being  good.  Her  soul  was  in  quest 
of  something,  which  was  not  just  being  good,  and  doing 
one's  best.  No,  she  wanted  something  else:  something  that 
was  not  her  ready-made  duty.  Everything  seemed  to  be 
merely  a  matter  of  social  duty,  and  never  of  her  self.  They 
talked  ^  about  her  soul,  but  somehow  never  managed  to  rouse 
or  to  implicate  her  soul.  As  yet  her  soul  was  not  brought 
in  at  all. 

_  So  that  whilst  she  had  an  affection  for  Mr.  Loverseed,  the 
vicar,  and  a  protective  sort  of  feeling  for  Cossethay  church, 
wanting  always  to  help  it  and  defend  it,  it  counted  very  small 
in  her  life. 

Not  but  that  she  was  conscious  of  some  imsatisfaction 
When  her  husband  was  roused  by  the  thought  of  the  churches, 
then  she  became  hostile  to  the  ostensible  church,  she  hated 
it  for  not  fulfilling  anything  in  her.  The  Church  told  her 
to  be  good :  very  well,  she  had  no  idea  of  contradicting  what 
it  said.  The  Church  talked  about  her  soul,  about  the  welfare 
of  mankind,  as  if  the  saving  of  her  soul  lay  in  her  performing 
certain  acts  conducive  to  the  welfare  of  mankind.  Well  and 
good  —  it  was  so,  then. 

Nevertheless,  as  she  sat  in  church  her  face  had  a  pathos 
and  poignancy.  Was  this  what  shr  had  come  to  hear:  how. 
by  doing  this  thing  and  by  not  doing  that,  she  could  save  her 
soul  ?  She  did  not  contradict  it.  But  the  pathos  of  her  face 
gave  the  lie  There  was  something  else  she  wanted  to  hear, 
it  was  something  else  she  asked  for  from  the  Church. 

But  who  was  she  to  affirm  it?  And  what  was  she  doing 
with  unsatisfied  desires?  She  was  ashamed.  She  ignorea 
them  and  left  them  out  of  count  as  much  as  possible,  her 
underneath  yearnings.  They  angered  her.  She  wanted  to  be 
like  other  people,  decently  satisfied. 

He  angered  her  more  than  ever.  Church  had  an  irresistible 
attraction  for  him.  And  he  paid  no  more  attention  to  thai 
part  of  the  service  which  was  Church  to  her,  than  if  he  had 
been  an  angel  or  a  fabulous  beast  sitting  there.  He  simpty 
paid  no  heed  to  the  sermon  or  to  the  meaning  of  the  service 
There  was  something  thick,  dark,  dense,  powerful  about  him 
that  irritated  her  too  deeply  for  her  to  speak  of  it.  The 


148  THE  RAINBOW 

Church  teaching  in  itself  meant  nothing  to  him.  "  And  for- 
give us  our  trespasses  as  we  forgive  them  that  trespass  against 
us  "-  —  it  simply  did  not  touch  him.  It  might  have  been  mere 
sounds,  and  it  would  have  acted  upon  him  in  the  same  way. 
He  did  not  want  things  to  be  intelligible.  And  he  did  not  care 
about  his  trespasses,  neither  about  the  trespasses  of  his  neigh- 
bour, when  he  was  in  church.  Leave  that  care  for  weekdays. 
When  he  was  in  church,  he  took  no  more  notice  of  his  daily  life. 
It  was  weekday  stuff.  As  for  the  welfare  of  mankind  —  he 
merely  did  not  realize  that  there  was  any  such  thing:  except 
on  weekdays,  when  he  was  good-natured  enough.  In  church, 
he  wanted  a  dark,  nameless  emotion,  the  emotion  of  all  the 
great  mysteries  of  passion. 

He  was  not  interested  in  the  thought  of  himself  or  of  her: 
oh,  and  how  that  irritated  her!  He  ignored  the  sermon, 
he  ignored  the  greatness  of  mankind,  he  did  not  admit  the 
immediate  importance  of  mankind.  He  did  not  care  about 
himself  as  a  human  being.  He  did  not  attach  any  vital  im- 
portance to  his  life  in  the  drafting  office,  or  his  life  among 
men.  That  was  just  merely  the  margin  to  the  text.  The 
verity  was  his  connection  with  Anna  and  his  connection  with 
the  Church,  his  real  being  lay  in  his  dark  emotional  experience 
of  the  Infinite,  of  the  Absolute.  And  the  great  mysterious, 
illuminated  capitals  to  the  text,  were  his  feelings  with  the 
Church. 

It  exasperated  her  beyond  measure.  She  could  not  get 
out  of  the  Church  the  satisfaction  he  got.  The  thought  of 
her  soul  was  intimately  mixed  up  with  the  thought  of  her 
own  self.  Indeed,  her  soul  and  her  own  self  were  one  and 
the  same  in  her.  Whereas  he  seemed  simply  to  ignore  the 
fact  of  his  own  self,  almost  to  refute  it.  He  had  a  soul  —  a 
dark,  inhuman  thing  caring  nothing  for  humanity.  So  she 
conceived  it.  And  in  the  gloom  and  the  mystery  of  the 
Church  his  soul  lived  and  ran  free,  like  some  strange,  under- 
ground thing,  abstract. 

He  was  very  strange  to  her,  and,  in  this  church  spirit, 
conceiving  himself  as  a  soul,  he  seemed  to  escape  and  n 
free  of  her.     In  a  way,  she  envied  it  him,  this  dark  f reedoi 
and  jubilation  of  the  soul,  some  strange  entity  in  him. 
fascinated  her.     Again  she  hated  it.     And  again,  she  despis 
him.  wanted  to  destroy  it  in  him. 

This  snowy  morning,  he  sat  with  a  dark-bright  face  besic 
her,  not  aware  of  her,  and  somehow,  she  felt  he  was  coi 


ANNA  VICTRIX  149 

Teying  to  strange,  secret  places  the  love  that  sprang  in  him 
for  her.  He  sat  with  a  dark-rapt,  half-delighted  face,  looking 
at  a  little  stained  window.  She  saw  the  ruby-coloured  glass, 
with  the  shadow  heaped  along  the  bottom  from  the  snow  out- 
side, and  the  familiar  yellow  figure  of  the  lamb  holding  the 
banner,  a  little  darkened  now,  but  in  the  murky  interior 
strangely  luminous,,  pregnant. 

She  had  always  liked  the  little  red  and  yellow  window. 
The  lamb,  looking  very  silly  and  self-conscious,  was  holding 
up  a  forepaw,  in  the  cleft  of  which  was  dangerously  perched 
a  little  flag  with  a  red  cross.  Very  pale  yellow,  the  lamb, 
with  greenish  shadows.  Since  she  was  a  child  she  had  liked 
this  creature,  with  the  same  feeling  she  felt  for  the  little  woolly 
lambs  on  green  legs  that  children  carried  home  from  the  fair 
every  year.  She  had  always  liked  those  toys,  and  she  had  the 
same  amused,  childish  liking  for  this  church  lamb.  Yet  she 
had  always  been  uneasy  about  it.  She  was  never  sure  that  this 
Lamb  with  a  flag  did  not  want  to  be  more  than  it  appeared. 
.So  she  half  mistrusted  it,  there  was  a  mixture  of  dislike  in  her 
attitude  to  it. 

Now,  by  a  curious  gathering,  knitting  of  his  eyes,  the  faintest 
tension  of  ecstasy  on  his  face,  he  gave  her  the  uncomfortable 
feeling  that  he  was  in  correspondence  with  the  creature,  the 
lamb  in  the  window.  A  cold  wonder  came  over  her  —  her 
soul  was  perplexed.  There  he  sat,  motionless,  timeless,  with 
the  faint,  bright  tension  on  his  face.  What  was  he  doing? 
What  connection  was  there  between  him  and  the  lamb  in  the 
glass  ? 

Suddenly  it  gleamed  to  her  dominant,  this  lamb  with  the 
flag.  Suddenly  she  had  a  powerful  mystic  experience,  the 
power  of  the  tradition  seized  on  her,  she  was  transported  to 
another  world.  And  she  hated  it,  resisted  it. 

Instantly,  it  was  only  a  silly  lamb  in  the  glass  again.  And 
dark,  violent  hatred  of  her  husband  swept  up  in  her.  What 
was  he  doing,  sitting  there  gleaming,  carried  away,  soulful  ? 

She  shifted  sharply,  she  knocked  him  as  she  pretended  to 
pick  up  her  glove,  she  groped  among  his  feet. 

He  came  to,  rather  bewildered,  exposed.  Anybody  but  her 
would  have  pitied  him.  She  wanted  to  rend  him.  He  did 
not  know  what  was  amiss,  what  he  had  been  doing. 

As  they  sat  at  dinner,  in  their  cottage,  he  was  dazed  by 
the  chill  of  antagonism  from  her.  She  did  not  know  why 
she  was  so  angry.  But  she  was  incensed. 


150  THE  RAINBOW 

"Why  do  you  never  listen  to  the  sermon?"  she  asked, 
seething  with  hostility  and  violation. 

"  I  do/'  he  said. 

"  You  don't  —  you  don't  hear  a  single  word." 

He  retired  into  himself,  to  enjoy  his  own  sensation.     There 
/as  something  subterranean  about  him,  as  if  he  had  an  under- 
world refuge.     The  young  girl  hated  to  be  in  the  house  with 
him  when  he  was  like  this. 

After  dinner,  he  retired  into  the  parlour,  continuing  in  the 
same  state  of  abstraction,  which  was  a  burden  intolerable 
to  her.  Then  he  went  to  the  book-shelf  and  took  down  books 
to  look  at,  that  she  had  scarcely  glanced  over. 

He  sat  absorbed  over  a  book  on  the  illuminations  in  old 
missals,   and   then   over  a  book   on  paintings   in  churches :  1 
Italian,  English,  French  and  German.     He  had,  when  he  was 
sixteen,   discovered    a   Eoman    Catholic   bookshop   where   he 
could  find  such  things. 

He  turned  the  leaves  in  absorption,  absorbed  in  looking, 
not  thinking.  He  was  like  a  man  whose  eyes  were  in  his 
chest,  she  said  of  him  later. 

She  came  to  look  at  the  things  with  him.  Half  they 
fascinated  her.  She  was  puzzled,  interested,  and  antagonistic. 

It  was  when  she  came  to  pictures  of  the  Pieta  that  she  ' 
burst  out. 

"  I  do  think  they're  loathsome,"  she  cried. 

"  What  ?  "  he  said,  surprised,  abstracted. 

"  Those  bodies  with  slits  in  them,  posing  to  be  worshipped." 

"  You  see,  it  means  the  Sacraments,  the  Bread,"  he  said, : 
slowly. 

"  Does  it ! "  she  cried.  "  Then  it's  worse.  /  don't  want 
to  see  your  chest  slit,  nor  to  eat  your  dead  body,  even  if  you 
)ffer  it  me.  Can't  you  see  it's  horrible  ?  " 

"  It  isn't  me,  it's  Christ." 

"  What  if  it  is,  it's  you !     And  it's  horrible,  you  wallowing 
in  your  own  dead  body,  and  thinking  of  eating  it  in  tl 
Sacrament." 

"  You've  to  take  it  for  what  it  means." 

"It  means  your  human  body  put  up  to  be  slit  and  kill< 
and  then  worshipped  —  what  else  ?  " 

They  lapsed  into  silence.     His  soul  grew  angry  and  alooi 
'  "  And  I  -think  that  Lamb  in  Church,"  she  said,  "  is 
biggest  joke  in  the  parish 

She  burst  into  a  "  Pouf  "  of  ridiculing  laughter. 


ANNA  VICTRIX  151 

"  It  might  be,  to  those  that  see  nothing  in  it/'  he  said, 
"You  know  it's  the  symbol  of  Christ,  of  His  innocence  and 
sacrifice." 

"  Whatever  it  means,  it's  a  lamb,"  she  said.  "  And  I  like 
lambs  too  much  to  treat  them  as  if  they  had  to  mean  some- 
thing. As  for  the  Christmas-tree  flag  —  no " 

And  again  she  poufed  with  mockery. 

"  It's  because  you  don't  know  anything,"  he  said  violently, 
harshly.  "Laugh  at  what  you  know,  not  at  what  you  don't 
know." 

"  What  don't  I  know  ?  " 

"  What  things  mean." 

"  And  what  does  it  mean  ?  " 

He  was  reluctant  to  answer  her.     He  found  it  difficult. 

"  What  does  it  mean  ?  "  she  insisted. 

"  It  means  the  triumph  of  the  Eesurrection." 

She  hesitated,  baffled,  a  fear  came  upon  her.  What  were 
these  things  ?  Something  dark  and  powerful  seemed  to  extend 
before  her.  Was  it  wonderful  after  all  ? 

But  no  —  she  refused  it. 

"Whatever  it  may  pretend  to  mean,  what  it  is  is  a  silly 
absurd  toy-lamb  with  a  Christmas-tree  flag  ledged  on  its  paw 
—  and  if  it  wants  to  mean  anything  else,  it  must  look  different 
from  that." 

He  was  in  a  state  of  violent  irritation  against  her.  Partly 
he  was  ashamed  of  his  love  for  these  things;  he  hid  his 
passion  for  them.  He  was  ashamed  of  the  ecstasy  into  which 
he  could  throw  himself  with  these  symbols.  And  for  a  few 
moments  he  hated  the  lamb  and  the  mystic  pictures  of  the 
Eucharist,  with  a  violent/ashy  hatred.  His  fire  was  put  out, 
she  had  thrown  cold  water  on  it.  The  whole  thing  was  dis- 
tasteful to  him,  his  mouth  was  full  of  ashes.  He  went  out 
cold  with  corpse-like  anger,  leaving  her  alone.  He  hated  her. 
He  walked  through  the  white  snow,  under  a  sky  of  lead. 

And  she  wept  again,  in  bitter  recurrence  of  the  previous 
gloom.  But  her  heart  was  easy  —  oh,  much  -more  easy. 

She  was  quite  willing  to  make  it  up  with  him  when  he 
came  home  again.  He  was  black  and  surly,  but  abated. 
She  had  broken  a  little  of  something  in  him.  And  at  length 
he  was  glad  to  forfeit  from  his  soul  all  his  symbols,  to  have 
her  making  love  to  him.  He  loved  it  when  she  put  her 
head  on  his  knee,  and  he  had  not  asked  her  to  or  wanted 
her  to,  he  loved  her  when  she  put  her  arms  round  him 


152  THE  RAINBOW 

made  bold  love  to  him,  and  he  did  not  make  love  to  her. 
He  felt  a  strong  blood  in  his  limbs  again. 

And  she  loved  the  intent,  far  look  of  his  eyes  when  they 
rested  on  her:  intent,  yet  far,  not  near,  not  with  her.  And 
she  wanted  to  bring  them  near.  She  wanted  his  eyes  to 
come  to  hers,  to  know  her.  And  they  would  not.  They  re- 
mained intent,  and  far,  and  proud,  like  a  hawk's,  nai've  and 
inhuman  as  a  hawk's.  So  she  loved  him  and  caressed  him  and 
roused  him  like  a  hawk,  till  he  was  keen  and  instant,  but  with- 
out tenderness.  He  came  to  her  fierce  and  hard,  like  a  hawk 
striking  and  taking  her.  He  was  no  mystic  any  more,  she  was 
his  aim  and  object,  his  prey.  And  she  was  carried  off,  and  he 
was  satisfied,  or  satiated  at  last. 

Then  immediately  she  began  to  retaliate  on  him.  She  too 
was  a  hawk.  If  she  imitated  the  pathetic  plover  running 
plaintive  to  him,  that  was  part  of  the  game.  When  he,  satis- 
fied, moved  with  a  proud,  insolent  slouch  of  the  body  and  a 
half-contemptuous  drop  of  the  head,  unaware  of  her,  ignoring 
her  very  existence,  after  taking  his  fill  of  her  and  getting  his 
satisfaction  of  her,  her  soul  roused,  its  pinions  became  like 
steel,  and  she  struck  at  him.  When  he  sat  on  his  perch  glanc- 
ing sharply  round  with  solitary  pride,  pride  eminent  and  fierce, 
she  dashed  at  him  and  threw  him  from  his  station  savagely,  she 
goaded  him  from  his  keen  dignity  of  a  male,  she  harassed  him 
from  his  unperturbed  pride,  till  he  was  mad  with  rage,  his 
light  brown  eyes  burned  with  fury,  they  saw  her  now,  like 
flames  of  anger  they  flared  at  her  and  recognized  her  as  the 
enemy. 

Very  good,  she  was  the  enemy,  very  good.  As  he  prowled 
round  her,  she  watched  him.  As  he  struck  at  her,  she  struck 
back. 

He  was  angry  because  she  had  carelessly  pushed  away  his 
tools  so  that  they  got  rusty. 

"  Don't  leave  them  littering  in  my  way,  then/'  she  said. 

"  I  shall  leave  them  where  I  like/'  he  cried. 

"  Then  I  shall  throw  them  where  I  like." 

They  glowered  at  each  other,  he  with  rage  in  his  hands, 
she  with  her  soul  fierce  with  victory.  They  were  very  well 
matched.  They  would  fight  it  out. 

She  turned  to  her  sewing.  Immediately  the  tea-things  were 
cleared  away,  she  fetched  out  the  stuff,  and  his  soul  rose  in 
rage.  He  hated  beyond  measure  to  hear  the  shriek  of  calico 


ANNA  VICTRIX  153 

as  she  tore  the  web  sharply,  as  if  with  pleasure.  And  the  run 
of  the  sewing-machine  gathered  a  frenzy  in  him  at  last. 

"  Aren't  you  going  to  stop  that  row  ?  "  he  shouted.  "  Can't 
you  do  it  in  the  daytime  ?  " 

She  looked  up  sharply,  hostile  from  her  work. 

"  No,  I  can't  do  it  in  the  daytime,  I  have  other  things  to 
do.  Besides,  I  like  sewing,  and  you're  not  going  to  stop  me 
doing  it." 

Whereupon  she  turned  back  to  her  arranging,  fixing,  stitch- 
ing, his  nerves  jumped  with  anger  as  the  sewing-machine 
started  and  stuttered  and  buzzed. 

But  she  was  enjoying  herself,  she  was  triumphant  and  happy 
as  the  darting  needle  danced  ecstatically  down  a  hem,  draw- 
ing the  stuff  along  winder  its  vivid  stabbing,  irresistibly.  She 
made  the  machine  hum.  She  stopped  it  imperiously,  her 
fingers  were  deft  and  swift  and  mistress. 

If  he  sat  behind  her  stiff  with  impotent  rage  it  only  made 
a  trembling  vividness  come  into  her  energy.  On  she  worked. 
At  last  he  went  to  bed  in  a  rage,  and  lay  stiff,  away  from 
her.  And  she  turned  her  back  on  him.  And  in  the  morning 
they  did  not  speak,  except  in  mere  cold  civilities. 

And  when  he  came  home  at  night,  his  heart  relenting  and 
growing  hot  for  love  of  her,  when  he  was  just  ready  to  feel 
he  had  been  wrong,  and  when  he  was  expecting  her  to  feel 
the  same,  there  she  sat  at  the  sewing-machine,  the  whole 
house  was  covered  with  clipped  calico,  the  kettle  was  not  even 
on  the  fire. 

She  started  up,  affecting  concern. 

"Is  it  so  late?"  she  cried. 

But  his  face  had  gone  stiff  with  rage.  He  walked  through 
to  the  parlour,  then  he  walked  back  and  out  of  the  house 
again.  Her  heart  sank.  Very  swiftly  she  began  to  make  his 
tea. 

He  went  black-hearted  down  the  road  to  Ilkeston.  When 
he  was  in  this  state  he  never  thought.  A  bolt  shot  across 
the  doors  of  his  mind  and  shut  him  in,  a  prisoner.  He  went 
back  to  Ilkeston,  and  drank  a  glass  of  beer.  What  was  he 
going  to  do  ?  He  did  not  want  to  see  anybody. 

He  would  go  to  Nottingham,  to  his  own  town.  He  went  to 
the  station  and  took  a  train.  When  he  got  to  Nottingham,  still 
he  had  nowhere  to  go.  However,  it  was  more  agreeable  to  walk 
familiar  streets.  He  paced  them  with  a  mad  restlessness,  as  if 


154  THE  RAINBOW 

he  were  running  amok.  Then  he  turned  to  a  book-shop  and 
found  a  book  on  Bamberg  Cathedral.  Here  was  a  discovery! 
here  was  something  for  him !  He  went  into  a  quiet  restaurant 
to  look  at  his  treasure.  He  lit  up  with  thrills  of  bliss  as  he 
turned  from  picture  to  picture.  He  had  found  something  at 
last,  in  these  carvings.  His  soul  had  great  satisfaction.  Had 
he  not  come  out  to  seek,  and  had  he  not  found !  He  was  in  a 
passion  of  fulfilment.  These  were  the  finest  carvings,  statues, 
he  had  ever  seen.  The  book  lay  in  his  hands  like  a  doorway. 
The  world  around  was  only  an  enclosure,  a  room.  But  he  was 
going  away.  He  lingered  over  the  lovely  statues  of  women. 
A  marvellous,  finely-wrought  universe  crystallized  out  around 
him  as  he  looked  again,  at  the  crowns,  the  twining  hair,  the 
woman-faces.  He  liked  all  the  better  the  unintelligible  text  of 
the  German.  He  preferred  things  he  could  not  understand 
with  the  mind.  He  loved  the  undiscovered  and  the  undiscover- 
able.  He  pored  over  the  pictures  intensely.  And  these  were 
wooden  statues,  "  Holz " —  he  believed  that  meant  wood. 
Wooden  statues  so  shapen  to  his  soul !  He  was  a  million  times 
gladdened.  How  undiscovered  the  world  was,  how  it  revealed 
itself  to  his  soul !  What  a  fine,  exciting  thing  his  life  was,  at 
his  hand!  Did  not  Bamberg  Cathedral  make  the  world  his 
own?  He  celebrated  his  triumphant  strength  and  life  and 
verity,  and  embraced  the  vast  riches  he  was  inheriting. 

But  it  was  about  time  to  go  home.  He  had  better  catch  a 
train.  All  the  time  there  was  a  steady  bruise  at  the  bottom  of 
his  soul,  but  so  steady  as  to  be  forgettable.  He  caught  a  train 
for  Ilkeston. 

It  was  ten  o'clock  as  he  was  mounting  the  hill  to  Cossethay, 
carrying  his  limp  book  on  Bamberg  Cathedral.  He  had  not 
yet  thought  of  Anna,  not  definitely.  The  dark  finger  pressing 
a  bruise  controlled  him  thoughtlessly. 

Anna  had  started  guiltily  when  he  left  the  house.  She  had 
hastened  preparing  the  tea,  hoping  he  would  come  back.  She 
had  made  some  toast,  and  got  all  ready.  Then  he  didn't  come. 
She  cried  with  vexation  and  disappointment.  Why  had  he 
gone  ?  Why  couldn't  he  come  back  now  ?  Why  was  it  such 
battle  between  them?  She  loved  him  —  she  did  love  him 
why  couldn't  he  be  kinder  to  her,  nicer  to  her? 

She  waited  in  distress  —  then  her  mood  grew  harder.     He 
passed  out  of  her  thoughts.     She  had  considered  indignantly, 
what  right  he  had  to  interfere  with  her  sewing  ?  i   She  hac 
indignantly  refuted  his  right  to  interfere  with  her  at  all.     She 


ANNA  VICTRIX  155 

was  not  to  be  interfered  with.  Was  she  not  herself,  and  he 
the  outsider? 

Yet  a  quiver  of  fear  went  through  her.  If  he  should  leave 
her  ?  She  sat  conjuring  fears  and  sufferings,  till  she  wept  with 
very  self-pity.  She  did  not  know  what  she  would  do  if  he  left 
her,  or  if  he  turned  against  her.  The  thought  of  it  chilled  her, 
made  her  desolate  and  hard.'  And  against  him,  the  stranger, 
the  outsider,  the  being  who  wanted  to  arrogate  authority,  she 
remained  steadily  fortified.  Was  she  not  herself  ?  How  could 
one  who  was  not  of  her  own  kind  presume  with  authority? 
She  knew  she  was  immutable,  unchangeable,  she  was  not. afraid 
for  her  own  being.  She  was  only  afraid  of  all  that  was  not 
herself.  It  pressed  round  her,  it  came  to  her  and  took  part  in 
her,  in  form  of  her  man,  this  vast,  resounding,  alien  world 
which  was  not  herself.  And  he  had  so  many  weapons,  he 
might  strike  from  so  many  sides. 

When  he  came  in  at  the  door,  his  heart  was  blazed  with 
pity  and  tenderness,  she  looked  so  lost  and  forlorn  and  young. 
She  glanced  up,  afraid.  And  she  was  surprised  to  see  him, 
shining-faced,  clear  and  beautiful  in  his  movements,  as  if  he 
were  clarified.  And  a  startled  pang  of  fear,  and  shame  of  her" 
self  went  through  her. 

They  waited  for  each  other  to  speak. 

"  Do  you  want  to  eat  anything  ?  "  she  said. 

"  Fll  get  it  myself,"  he  answered,  not  wanting  her  to  serve 
him.  But  she  brought  out  food.  And  it  pleased  him  she  did 
it  for  him.  He  was  again  a  bright  lord. 

"  I  went  to  Nottingham,"  he  said  mildly. 

"  To  your  mother  ?  "  she  asked,  in  a  flash  of  contempt. 

«  No  —  I  didn't  go  home." 

"Who  did  you  go  to  see?" 

"  I  went  to  see  nobody." 

"  Then  why  did  you  go  to  Nottingham  ?  " 

"  I  went  because  I  wanted  to  go." 

He  was  getting  angry  that  she  again  rebuffed  him  when 
he  was  so  clear  and  shining. 

"  And  who  did  you  see  ?  " 

"  I  saw  nobody." 

"Nobody?" 

"  No  —  who  should  I  see  ?  " 

"  You  saw  nobody  you  knew  ?  " 

"  No,  I  didn't,"  he  replied  irritably. 

She  believed  him,  and  her  mood  became  cold. 


156  THE  RAINBOW 

"  I  bought  a  book/'  he  said,  handing  her  the  propitiatory 
volume. 

She  idly  looked  at  the  pictures.  Beautiful,  the  pure  women, 
with  their  clear-dropping  gowns.  Her  heart  became  colder. 
What  did  they  mean  to  him? 

He  sat  and  waited  for  her.     She  bent  over  the  book. 

"  Aren't  they  nice  ?  "  he  said,  his  voice  roused  and  glad. 
Her  blood  flushed,  but  she  did  not  lift  her  head. 

"  Yes/'  she  said.  In  spite  of  herself,  she  was  compelled  by 
him.  He  was  strange,  attractive,  exerting  some  power  over 
her. 

He  came  over  to  her,  and  touched  her  delicately.  Her 
heart  beat  with  wild  passion,  wild  raging  passion.  But  ehe 
resisted  as  yet.  It  was  always  the  unknown,  always  the  un- 
known, and  she  clung  fiercely  to  her  known  self.  But  the 
rising  flood  carried  her  away. 

They  loved  each  other  to  transport  again,  passionately  and 
fully. 

"Isn't  it  more  wonderful  than  ever?"  she  asked  him,  ra- 
diant like  a  newly  opened  flower,  with  tears  like  dew. 

He  held  her  closer.     He  was  strange  and  abstracted. 

"  It  is  always  more  wonderful,"  she  asseverated,  in  a  glad, 
child's  voice,  remembering  her  fear,  and  not  quite  cleared  of 
it  yet. 

So  it  went  on  continually,  the  recurrence  of  love  and  con- 
flict between  them.  One  day  it  seemed  as  if  everything  was 
shattered,  all  life  spoiled,  ruined,  desolate  and  laid  waste. 
The  next  day  it  was  all  marvellous  again,  just  marvellous. 
One  day  she  thought  she  would  go  mad  from  his  very  pres- 
ence, the  sound  of  his  drinking  was  detestable  to  her.  The 
next  day  she  loved  and  rejoiced  in  the  way  he  crossed  the 
floor,  he  was  sun,  moon  and  stars  in  one. 

She  fretted,  however,  at  last,  over  the  lack  of  stability. 
When  the  perfect  hours  came  back,  her  heart  did  not  forget 
that  they  would  pass  away  again.  She  was  uneasy.  The 
surety,  the  surety,  the  inner  surety,  the  confidence  in  the 
abidingness  of  love:  that  was  what  she  wanted.  And  that 
she  did  not  get.  She  knew  also  that  he  had  not  got  it. 

Nevertheless  it  was  a  marvellous  world,  she  was  for  the 
most  part  lost  in  the  marvellousness  of  it.  Even  her  great 
woes  were  marvellous  to  her. 

She  could  be  very  happy.  And  she  wanted  to  be  happy. 
She  resented  it  when  he  made  her  unhappy.  Then  she  could 


ANNA  VICTRIX  157 

kill  him,  cast  him  out.  Many  days,  she  waited  for  the  hour 
when  he  would  be  gone  to  work.  Then  the  flow  of  her  life, 
which  he  seemed  to  dam  up,  was  let  loose,  and  she  was  free. 
She  was  free,  she  was  full  of  delight.  Everything  delighted 
her.  She  took  up  the  rug  and  went  to  shake  it  in  the  garden. 
Patches  of  snow  were  on  the  fields,  the  air  was  light.  She 
heard  the  ducks  shouting  on  the  pond,  she  saw  them  charge  and 
sail  across  the  water  as  if  they  were  setting  off  on  an  invasion 
of  the  world.  She  watched  the  rough  horses,  one  of  which  was 
clipped  smooth  on  the  belly,  so  that  he  wore  a  jacket  and  long 
stockings  of  brown  fur,  stand  kissing  each  other  in  the  wintry 
morning  by  the  church-yard  wall.  Everything  delighted  her, 
now  he  was  gone,  the  insulator,  the  obstruction  removed,  the 
world  all  hers,  in  connection  with  her. 

She  was  joyfully  active.  Nothing  pleased  her  more  than  to 
hang  out  the  washing  in  a  high  wind  that  came  full-butt  over 
the  round  of  the  hill,  tearing  the  wet  garments  out  of  her 
hands,  making  flap-flap-flap  of  the  waving  stuff.  She  laughed 
and  struggled  and  grew  angry.  But  she  loved  her  solitary 
days. 

Then  he  came  home  at  night,  and  she  knitted  her  brows  be- 
cause of  some  endless  contest  between  them.  As  he  stood  in 
the  doorway  her  heart  changed.  It  steeled  itself.  The  laugh- 
ter and  zest  of  the  day  disappeared  from  her.  She  was 
stiffened. 

They  fought  an  unknown  battle,  unconsciously.  Still  they 
were  in  love  with  each  other,  the  passion  was  there.  But  the 
passion  was  consumed  in  a  battle.  And  the  deep,  fierce,  un- 
named battle  went  on.  Everything  glowed  intensely  about 
them,  the  world  had  put  off  its  clothes  and  was  awful,  with 
new,  primal  nakedness. 

Sunday  came,  when  the  strange  spell  was  cast  over  her  by 
him.  Half  she  loved  it.  She  was  becoming  more  like  him. 
All  the  week-days,  there  was  a  glint  of  sky  and  fields,  the 
little  church  seemed  to  babble  away  to  the  cottages  the  morn- 
ing through.  But  on  Sundays,  when  he  stayed  at  home,  a 
deeply-coloured,  intense  gloom  seemed  to  gather  on  the  face  of 
the  earth,  the  church  seemed  to  fill  itself  with  shadow,  to  be- 
come big,  a  universe  to  her,  there  was  a  burning  of  blue  and 
ruby,  a  sound  of  worship  about  her.  And  when  the  doors  were 
opened,  and  she  came  out  into  the  world,  it  was  a  world  new- 
created,  she  stepped  into  the  resurrection  of  the  world,  her 
heart  beating  to  the  memory  of  the  darkness  and  the  Passion. 


158  THE  RAINBOW 

If,  as  very  often,  they  went  to  the  Marsh  for  tea  on  Sundays, 
then  she  regained  another,  lighter  world,  that  had  never  kmown 
the  gloom  and  the  stained  glass  and  the  ecstasy  of  chanting. 
Her  husband  was  obliterated,  she  was  with  her  father  again, 
who  was  so  fresh  and  free  and  all  daylight.  Her  husband, 
with  his  intensity  and  his  darkness,  was  obliterated.  She  left 
him,  she  forgot  him,  she  accepted  her  father. 

Yet,  as  she  went  home  again  with  the  young  man,. she  put 
her  hand  on  his  arm  tentatively,  a  little  bit  ashamed,  her  hand 
pleaded  that  he  would  not  hold  it  against  her.  her  recusancy. 
But  he  was  obscured.  He  seemed  to  become  blind,  as  if  he 
were  not  there  with  her. 

Then  she  was  afraid.  She  wanted  him.  When  he  was 
oblivious  of  her,  she  almost  went  mad  with  fear.  For  she 
had  become  so  vulnerable,  so  exposed.  She  was  in  touch  so 
intimately.  All  things  about  her  had  become  intimate,  she  had 
known  them  near  and  lovely,  like  presences  hovering  upon  her. 
What  if  they  should  all  go  hard  and  separate  again,  standing 
back  from  her  terrible  and  distinct,  and  she,  having  known 
them,  should  be  at  their  mercy  ? 

This  frightened  her.  Always,  her  husband  was  to  her  the 
unknown  to  which  she  was  delivered  up.  She  was  a  flower 
that  has  been  tempted  forth  into  blossom,  and  has  no  retreat. 
He  had  her  nakedness  in  his  power.  And  who  was  he,  what 
was  he?  A  blind  thing,  a  dark  force, 'without  knowledge. 
She  wanted  to  preserve  herself. 

Then  she  gathered  him  to  herself  again  and  was  satisfied 
for  a  moment.  But  as  time  went  on,  she  began  to  realize 
more  and  more  that  he  did  not  alter,  that  he  was  something 
dark,  alien  to  herself.  She  had  thought  him  just  the  bright 
reflex  of  herself.  As  the  weeks  and  months  went  by  she  real- 
ized that  he  was  a  dark  opposite  to  her,  that  they  were  op- 
posites,  not  complements. 

He  did  not  alter,  he  remained  separately  himself,  and  he 
seemed  to  expect  her  to  be  part  of  himself,  the  extension  of 
his  will.  She  felt  him  trying  to  gain  power  over  her,  with- 
out knowing  her.  What  did  he  want?  Was  he  going  to 
bully  her? 

What  did  she  want  herself?  She  answered  herself,  that 
she  wanted  to\  be  happy,  to  be  natural,  like  the  sunlight  and 
the  busy  daytime.  And,  at  the  bottom  of  her  soul,  she  felt 
he  wanted  her  to  be  dark,  unnatural.  Sometimes,  when  he 
seemed  like  the  darkness  covering  and  smothering  her,  she 


ANNA  VICTRIX  159 

revolted  almost  in  horror,  and  struck  at  him.  She  struck  at 
him,  and  made  him  bleed,  and  he  became  wicked.  Because 
she  dreaded  him  and  held  him  in  horror,  he  became  wicked, 
he  wanted  to  destroy.  And  then  the  fight  between  them  was 
cruel. 

She  began  to  tremble.  He  wanted  to  impose  himself  on 
her.  And  he  began  to  shudder.  She  wanted  to  desert  him, 
to  leave  him  a  prey  to  the  open,  with  the  unclean  dogs  of 
the  darkness  setting  on  to  devour  him.  He  must  beat  her,  and 
make  her  stay  with  him.  Whereas  she  fought  to  keep  her- 
self free  of  him. 

They  went  their  ways  now  shadowed  and  stained  with  blood, 
feeling  the  world  far  off,  unable  to  give  help.  Till  she  began 
to  get  tired.  After  a  certain  point,  she  became  impassive, 
detached  utterly  from  him.  He  was  always  ready  to  burst  out 
murderously  against  her.  Her  soul  got  up  and  left  him,  she 
went  her  way.  Nevertheless  in  her  apparent  blitheness,  that 
made  his  soul  black  with  opposition,  she  trembled  as  if  she 
bled. 

And  ever  and  again,  the  pure  love  came  in  sunbeams  be- 
tween them,  when  she  was  like  a  flower  in  the  sun  to  him,  so 
beautiful,  so  shining,  so  intensely  dear  that  he  could  scarcely 
bear  it.  Then  as  if  his  soul  had  six  wings  of  bliss  he  stood 
absorbed  in  praise,  feeling  the  radiance  from  the  Almighty 
beat  through  him  like  a  pulse,  as  he  stood  in  the  upright  flame 
of  praise,  transmitting  the  pulse  of  Creation. 

And  ever  and  again  he  appeared  to  her  as  the  dread  flame 
of  power.  Sometimes,  when  he  stood  in  the  doorway,  his  face 
lit  up,  he  seemed  like  an  Annunciation  to  her,  her  heart  beat 
fast.  And  she  watched  him,  suspended.  He  had  a  dark, 
burning  being  that  she  dreaded  and  resisted.  She  was  subject 
to  him  as  to  the  Angel  of  the  Presence.  She  waited  upon  him 
and  heard  his  will,  and  she  trembled  in  his  service. 

Then  all  this  passed  away.  Then  he  loved  her  for  her  child- 
ishness and  for  her  strangeness  to  him,  for  the  wonder  of  her 
soul  which  was  different  from  his  soul,  and  which  made  him 
genuine  when  he  would  be  false.  And  she  loved  him  for  the 
way  he  sat  loosely  in  a  chair,  or  for  the  way  he  came  through 
a  door  with  his  face  open  and  eager.  She  loved  his  ringing, 
eager  voice,  and  the  touch  of  the  unknown  about  him,  his  abso* 
lute  simplicity. 

Yet  neither  of  them  was  quite  satisfied.  He  felt,  some- 
where, that  she  did  not  respect  him.  She  only  respected  him 


360  THE  RAINBOW 

as  far  as  he  was  related  to  herself.  For  what  he  was,  beyond 
her,  she  had  no  care.  She  did  not  care  for  what  he  represented 
in  himself.  It  is  true,  he  did  not  know  himself  what  he  repre- 
sented. But  whatever  it  was  she  did  not  really  honour  it. 
She  did  no  service  to  his  work  as  a  lace-designer,  nor  to  him- 
self as  bread-winner.  Because  he  went  down  to  the  office  and 
worked  every  day  —  that  entitled  him  to  no  respect  or  regard 
from  her,  he  knew.  Eather  she  despised  him  for  it.  And  he 
almost  loved  her  for  this,  though  at  first  it  maddened  him  like 
an  insult. 

What  was  much  deeper,  she  soon  came  to  combat  his  deepest 
feelings.  What  he  thought  about  life  and  about  society  and 
mankind  did  not  matter  very  much  to  her :  he  was  right  enough 
to  be  insignificant.  This  was  again  galling  to  him.  She 
would  judge  beyond  him  on  these  things.  But  at  length  he 
came  to  accept  her  judgments,  discovering  them  as  if  they  were 
his  own.  It  was  not  here  the  deep  trouble  lay.  The  deep  root 
of  his  enmity  lay  in  the  fact  that  she  jeered  at  his  soul.  He 
was  inarticulate  and  stupid  in  thought.  But  to  some  things 
he  clung  passionately.  He  loved  the  Church.  If  she  tried  to 
get  out  of  him,  what  he  believed,  then  they  were  both  soon  in  a 
white  rage. 

Did  he  believe  the  water  turned  to  wine  at  Cana?  She 
would  drive  him  to  the  thing  as  a  historical  fact:  so  much 
rain-water  —  look  at  it  —  can  it  become  grape-juice,  wine? 
For  an  instant,  he  saw  with  the  clear  eyes  of  the  mind  and 
said  no,  his  clear  mind,  answering  her  for  a  moment,  rejected 
the  idea.  And  immediately  his  whole  soul  was  crying  in  a 
mad,  inchoate  hatred  against  this  violation  of  himself.  It 
was  true  for  him.  His  mind  was  extinguished  again  at  once, 
his  blood  was  up.  In  his  blood  and  bones,  he  wanted  the 
scene,  the  wedding,  the  water  brought  forward  from  the  firkins 
as  red  wine:  and  Christ  saying  to  His  mother:  "Woman, 
what  have  I  to  do  with  thee  ?  —  mine  hour  is  not  yet  come." 

And  then : 

"  His  mother  saith  unto  the  servants,  f  Whatsoever  he  saith 
unto  you,  do  it.' ?; 

Brangwen  loved  it,  with  his  bones  and  blood  he  loved  it, 
he  could  not  let  it  go.  Yet  she  forced  him  to  let  it  go.  She 
hated  his  blind  attachments. 

Water,  natural  water,  could  it  suddenly  and  unnaturally 
turn  into  wine,  depart  from  its  being  and  at  hap-hazard  take 
on  another  being  ?  Ah  no,  he  knew  it  was  wrong. 


ANNA  VICTRIX  161 

She  became  again  the  palpitating,  hostile  child,  hateful, 
putting  things  to  destruction.  He  became  mute  and  dead. 
His  own  being  gave  him  the  lie.  He  knew  it  was  so:  wine 
was  wine,  water  was  water,  for  ever :  the  water  had  not  become 
wine.  The  miracle  was  not  a  real  fact.  She  seemed  to  be 
destroying  him.  He  went  out,  dark  and  destroyed,  his  soul 
running  its  blood.  And  he  tasted  of  death.  Because  his  life 
was  formed  in  these  unquestioned  concepts. 

She,  desolate  again  as  she  had  been  when  she  was  a  child, 
went  away  and  sobbed.  She  did  not  care,  she  did  not  care 
whether  the  water  had  turned  to  wine  or  not.  Let  him  believe 
it  if  he  wanted  to.  But  she  knew  she  had  won.  And  an  ashy 
desolation  came  over  her. 

They  were  ashenly  miserable  for  some  time.  Then  the  life 
began  to  come  back.  He  was  nothing  if  not  dogged.  He 
thought  again  of  the  chapter  of  St.  John.  There  was  a  great 
biting  pang.  "  But  thou  hast  kept  the  good  wine  until  now." 
"  The  best  wine ! "  The  young  man's  heart  responded  in 
a  craving,  in  a  triumph,  although  the  knowledge  that  it  was 
not  true  in  fact  bit  at  him  like  a  weasel  in  his  heart.  Which 
was  stronger,  the  pain  of  the  denial,  or  the  desire  for  affirma- 
tion? He  was  stubborn  in  spirit,  and  abode  by  his  desire. 
But  he  would  not  any  more  affirm  the  miracles  as  true. 

Very  well,  it  was  not  true,  the  water  had  not  turned  into 
wine.  The  water  had  not  turned  into  wine.  But  for  all  that 
he  would  live  in  his  soul  as  if  the  water  had  turned  into  wine. 
For  truth  of  fact,  it  had  not.  But  for  his  soul,  it  had. 

"  Whether  it  turned  into  wine  or  whether  it  didn't/'  he  said, 
"  it  doesn't  bother  me.  I  take  it  for  what  it  is." 

"  And  what  is  it  ?  "  she  asked,  quickly,  hopefully. 

"  It's  the  Bible,"  he  said. 

That  answer  enraged  her,  and  she  despised  him.  She  did 
not  actively  question  the  Bible  herself.  But  he  drove  her  to 
contempt. 

And  yet  he  did*  not  care  about  the  Bible,  the  written  letter. 
Although  he  could  not  satisfy  her,  yet  she  knew  of  herself 
that  he  had  something  real.  He  was  not  a  dogmatist.  He 
did  not  believe  in  fact  that  the  water  turned  into  wine.  He 
did  not  want  to  make  a  fact  out  of  it.  Indeed,  his  attitude 
was  without  criticism.  It  was  purely  individual.  He  took 
that  which  was  of  value  to  him  from  the  Written  Word,  he 
added  to  his  spirit.  His  mind  he  let  sleep. 

And  she  was  bitter  against  him,  that  he  let  his  mind  sleep. 


162  THE  RAINBOW 

That  which  was  human,  belonged  to  mankind,  he  would  not 
exert.  He  cared  only  for  himself.  He  was  no  Christian. 
Above  all,  Christ  had  asserted  the  brotherhood  of  man. 

She,  almost  against  herself,  clung  to  the  worship  of  the 
human  knowledge.  Man  must  die  in  the  body,  but  in  his 
knowledge  he  was  immortal.  Such,  somewhere,  was  her  belief, 
quite  obscure  and  unformulated.  She  believed  in  the  omnip- 
otence of  the  human  mind. 

He,  on  the  other  hand,  blind  as  a  subterranean  thing,  just 
ignored  the  human  mind  and  ran  after  his  own,,  dark-souled 
desires,  following  his  own  tunnelling  nose.  She  felt  often  she 
must  suffocate.  And  she  fought  him  off. 

Then  he,  knowing  he  was  blind,  fought  madly  back  again, 
frantic  in  sensual  fear.  He  did  foolish  things.  He  asserted 
himself  on  his  rights,  he  arrogated  the  old  position  of  master 
of  the  house. 

"  You've  a  right  to  do  as  I  want/'  he  cried. 

"  Fool !  »  she  answered.     «  Fool !  " 

"  I'll  let  you  know  who's  master,"  he  cried. 

"  Fool !  "  she  answered.  "  Fool !  I've  known  my  own 
father,  who  could  put  a  dozen  of  you  in  his  pipe  and  push 
them  down  with  his  finger-end.  Don't  I  know  what  a  fool 
you  are ! " 

He  knew  himself  what  a  fool  he  was,  and  was  flayed  by  the 
knowledge.  Yet  he  went  on  trying  to  steer  the  ship  of  their 
dual  life.  He  asserted  his  position  as  the  captain  of  the  ship. 
And  captain  and  ship  bored  her.  He  wanted  to  loom  im- 
portant as  master  of  one  of  the  innumerable  domestic  craft  that 
make  up  the  great  fleet  of  society.  It  seemed  to  her  a  ridicu- 
lous armada  of  tubs  jostling  in  futility.  She  felt  no  belief  in 
it.  She  jeered  at  him  as  master  of  the  house,  master  of  their 
dual  life.  And  he  was  black  with  shame  and  rage.  He  knew, 
with  shame,  how  her  father  had  been  a  man  without  arrogating 
any  authority. 

He  had  gone  on  the  wrong  tack,  and  he  felt  it  hard  to  give 
up  the  expedition.  There  was  great  surging  and  shame. 
Then  he  yielded.  He  had  given  up  the  master-of-the-house 
idea. 

There  was  something  he  wanted,  nevertheless,  some  form 
of  mastery.  .  Ever  and  anon,  after  his  collapses  into  the  petty 
and  the  shameful,  he  rose  up  again,  and,  stubborn  in  spirit, 
strong  in  his  power  to  start  afresh,  set  out  once  more  in  his 
male  pride  of  being  to  fulfil  the  hidden  passion  of  his  spirit. 


ANNA  VICTRIX  163 

It  began  well,  but  it  ended  always  in  war  between  them, 
till  they  were  both  driven  almost  to  madness.  He  said,  she 
did  not  respect  him.  She  laughed  in  hollow  scorn  of  this. 
For  her  it  was  enough  that  she  loved  him. 

"  Eespect  what  ?  "  she  asked. 

But  he  always  answered  the  wrong  thing.  And  though  she 
cudgelled  her  brains,  she  could  not  come  at  it. 

"  Why  don't  you  go  on  with  your  wood-carving  ?  "  she  said 
«  Why  don't  you  finish  your  Adam  and  Eve  ?  " 

But  she  did  not  care  for  the  Adam  and  Eve,  and  he  nevei 
put  another  stroke  to  it.  She  jeered  at  the  Eve,  saying,  "  She 
is  like  a  little  marionette.  Why  is  she  so  small?  You've 
made  Adam  as  big  as  God,  and  Eve  like  a  doll." 

"  It  is  impudence  to  say  that  Woman  was  made  out  of  Man's* 
body,"  she  continued,  "when  every  man  is  born  of  woman. 
What  impudence  men  have,  what  arrogance !  " 

In  a  rage  one  day,  after  trjdng  to  work  on  the  board,  and 
failing,  so  that  his  belly  was  a  flame  of  nausea,  he  chopped  up, 
the  whole  panel  and  put  it  on  the  fire.  She  did  not  know. 
He  went  about  for  some  days  very  quiet  and  subdued 
after  it. 

"  Where  is  the  Adam  and  Eve  board  ?  "  she  asked  him. 

"  Burnt." 

She  looked  at  him. 

"  But  your  carving  ?  " 

"  I  burned  it." 

"When?" 

She  did  not  believe  him. 

"  On  Friday  night." 

"  When  I  was  at  the  Marsh  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

She  said  no  more. 

Then,  when  he  had  gone  to  work,  she  wept  for  a  whole  day, 
and  was  much  chastened  in  spirit.  So  that  a  new,  fragile 
flame  of  love  came  out  of  the  ashes  of  this  last  pain. 

Directly,  it  occurred  to  her  that  she  was  with  child.  There 
was  a  great  trembling  of  wonder  and  anticipation  through 
her  soul.  She  wanted  a  child.  Not  that  she  loved  babies  so 
much,  though  she  was  touched  by  all  young  things.  But  she 
wanted  to  bear  children.  And  a  certain  hunger  in  her  heart 
wanted  to  unite  her  husband  with  herself,  in  a  child. 

She  wanted  a  son.  She  felt,  a  son  would  be  everything. 
She  wanted  to  tell  her  husband.  But  it  was  such  a  trembling, 


164  THE  RAINBOW 

intimate  thing  to  tell  him,  and  he  was  at  this  time  hard  and 
unresponsive.  So  that  she  went  away  and  wept.  It  was  such 
a  waste  of  a  beautiful  opportunity,  such  a  frost  that  nipped  in 
the  bud  one  of  the  beautiful  moments  of  her  life.  She  went 
about  heavy  and  tremulous  with  her  secret,  wanting  to  touch 
him,  oh,  most  delicately,  and  see  his  face,  dark  and  sensitive, 
attend  to  her  news.  She  waited  and  waited  for  him  to  become 
gentle  and  still  towards  her.  But  he  was  always  harsh  and  he 
bullied  her. 

So  that  the  buds  shrivelled  from  her  confidence,  she  was 
chilled.  She  went  down  to  the  Marsh. 

"Well,"  said  her  father,  looking  at  her  and  seeing  her  at 
the  first  glance,  "  what's  amiss  wi'  you  now  ?  " 

The  tears  came  at  the  touch  of  his  careful  love. 

"  Nothing/'  she  said. 

"  Can't  you  hit  it  off,  you  two  ?  "  he  said. 

"  He's  so  obstinate,"  she  quivered ;  but  her  soul  was  obdurate 
itself. 

"  Ay,  an'  I  know  another  who's  all  that,"  said  her  father. 

She  was  silent. 

"You  don't  want  to  make  yourselves  miserable,"  said  her 
father ;  "  all  about  nowt." 

"  He  isn't  miserable,"  she  said. 

"  I'll  back  my  life,  if  you  can  do  nowt  else,  you  can  make 
him  as  miserable  as  a  dog.  You'd  be  a  dab  hand  at  that, 
my  lass." 

"  I  do  nothing  to  make  him  miserable,"  she  retorted. 

"  Oh  no  —  oh  no !     A  packet  o'  butterscotch,  you  are." 

She  laughed  a  little. 

"  You  mustn't  think  I  want  to  be  miserable,"  she  cried.  "  I 
don't," 

"We  quite  readily  believe  it,"  retorted  Brangwen.  "Nei- 
ther do  you  intend  him  to  be  hopping  for  joy  like  a  fish  in  a 
pond." 

This  made  her  think.  She  was  rather  surprised  to  find  that 
she  did  not  intend  her  husband  to  be  hopping  for  joy  like  a 
fish  in  a  pond. 

Her  mother  came,  and  they  all  sat  down  to  tea,  talking 
casually. 

"  Remember,  child/'  said  her  mother,  "  that  everything  is 
not  waiting  for  your  hand  just  to  take  or  leave.  You  mustn't 
expect  it.  Between  two  people,  the  love  itself  is  the  important 
thing,  and  that  is  neither  you  nor  him.  It  is  a  third  thing 


ANNA  VICTRIX  165 

you  must  create.     You  mustn't  expect  it  to  be  just  your  way." 

"  Ha  —  nor  do  I.  If  I  did  I  should  soon  find  my  mistake 
out.  If  /  put  my  hand  out  to  take  anything,  my  hand  is  very 
soon  bitten,  I  can  tell  you." 

"  Then  you  must  mind  where  you  put  your  hand,"  said  her 
father. 

Anna  was  rather  indignant  that  they  took  the  tragedy  of 
her  young  married  life  with  such  equanimity. 

"  You  love  the  man  right  enough,"  said  her  father,  wrin- 
kling his  forehead  in  distress.  "  That's  all  as  counts." 

"  I  do  love  him,  more  shame  to  him,"  she  cried.  "  I  want 
to  tell  him  —  I've  been  waiting  for  four  days  now  to  tell 
him — _"  her  face  began  to  quiver,  the  tears  came.  Her 
parents  watched  her  in  silence.  She  did  not  go  on. 

"  Tell  him  what  ?  "  said  her  father. 

"  That  we're  going  to  have  an  infant,"  she  sobbed,  "  and 
he's  never,  never  let  me,  not  once,  every  time  I've  come  to 
him,  he's  been  horrid  to  me,  and  I  wanted  to  tell  him,  I  did. 
And  he  won't  let  me  —  he's  cruel  to  me." 

She  sobbed  as  if  her  heart  would  break.  Her  mother  went 
and  comforted  her,  put  her  arms  round  her,  and  held  her 
close.  Her  father  sat  with  a  queer,  wrinkled  brow,  and  was 
rather  paler  than  usual.  His  heart  went  tens^  with  hatred  of 
his  son-in-law. 

So  that,  when  the  tale  was  sobbed  out,  and  comfort  ad- 
ministered and  tea  sipped,  and  something  like  calm  restored 
to  the  little  circle,  the  thought  of  Will  Brangwen's  entry  was 
not  pleasantly  entertained. 

Tilly  was  set  to  watch  out  for  him  as  he  passed  by  on  his 
way  home.  The  little  party  at  table  heard  the  woman-serv- 
ant's shrill  call : 

"  You've  got  to  come  in,  Will.     Anna's  here." 

After  a  few  moments,  the  youth  entered. 

"  Are  you  stopping  ?  "  he  asked  in  his  hard,  harsh  voice. 

He  seemed  like  a  blade  of  destruction  standing  there.  She 
quivered  to  tears. 

"  Sit  you  down,"  said  Tom  Brangwen,  "  an'  take  a  bit  off 
your  length." 

Will  Brangwen  sat  down.  He  felt  something  strange  in 
the  atmosphere.  He  was  dark  browed,  but  his  eyes  had  the 
keen,  intent,  sharp  look,  as  if  he  could  only  see  in  the  dis- 
tance ;  which  was  a  beauty  in  him,  and  which  made  Anna  BO 
angry. 


166  THE  RAINBOW 

"Why  does  he  always  deny  me?"  she  said  to  herself. 
"  Why  is  it  nothing  to  him,,  what  I  am  ?  " 

And  Tom  Brangwen,  blue-eyed  and  warm,  sat  in  opposition 
to  the  youth. 

"  How  long  are  you  stopping  ?  "  the  young  husband  asked 
his  wife. 

"  Not  very  long/'  she  said. 

"  Get  your  tea,  lad/'  said  Tom  Brangwen.  "  Are  you 
itchin'  to  be  off  the  moment  you  enter  ?  " 

They  talked  of  trivial  things.  Through  the  open  door  the 
level  rays  of  sunset  poured  in,  shining  on  the  floor.  A  grey 
hen  appeared  stepping  swiftly  in  the  doorway,  pecking,  and 
the  light  through  her  comb  and  her  wattles  made  an  ori- 
flamme  tossed  here  and  there,  as  she  went,  her  grey  body  was 
like  a  ghost. 

Anna,  watching,  threw  scraps  of  bread,  and  she  felt  the 
child  flame  within  her.  She  seemed  to  remember  again  for- 
gotten, burning,  far-off  things. 

"Where  was  I  born,  mother?"  she  asked. 

"  In  London." 

.  "  And  was  my  father " —  she  spoke  of  him  as  if  he  were 
merely  a  strange  name:  she  could  never  connect  herself  with 
him  — "  was  he  dark  ?  " 

"  He  had  dark-brown  hair  and  dark  eyes  and  a  fresh  col- 
ouring. He  went  bald,  rather  bald,  when  he  was  quite 
young,"  replied  the  mother,  also  as  if  telling  a  tale  which  was 
just  old  imagination. 

"  Was  he  good-looking  ?  " 

"Yes  —  he  was  very  good-looking  —  rather  small.  I  have 
never  seen  an  Englishman  who  looked  like  him." 

"Why?" 

"  He  was  " —  the  mother  made  a  quick,  running  movement 
with  her  hands  — "  his  figure  was  alive  and  changing  —  it  was 
never  fixed.  He  was  not  in  the  least  steady  —  like  a  running 
stream." 

It  flashed  over  the  youth  —  Anna  too  was  like  a  running 
stream.  Instantly  he  was  in  love  with  her  again. 

Tom  Brangwen  was  frightened.  His  heart  always  filled 
with  fear,  fear  of  the  unknown,  when  he  heard  his  women 
speak  of  their  bygone  men  as  of  strangers  they  had  known 
in  passing  and  had  taken  leave  of  again. 

In  the  room,  there  came  a  silence  and  a  singleness  over  all 


ANNA  VICTRIX  167 

their  hearts.  They  were  separate  people  with  separate  desti- 
nies. Why  should  they  seek  each  to  lay  violent  hands  of 
claim  on  the  other? 

The  young  people  went  home  as  a  sharp  little  moon  was 
setting  in  a  dusk  of  spring.  Tufts  of  trees  hovered  in  the 
upper  air,  the  little -church  pricked  up  shadowily  at  the  top 
of  the  hill,  the  earth  was  a  dark  blue  shadow. 

She  put  her  hand  lightly  on  his  arm,  out  of  her  far  dis- 
tance. And  out  of  the  distance,  he  felt  her  touch  him.  They 
walked  on,  hand  in  hand,  along  opposite  horizons,  touching 
across  the  dusk.  There  was  a  sound  of  thrushes  calling  in 
the  dark  blue  twilight. 

"  I  think  we  are  going  to  have  an  infant,  Bill/'  she  said, 
from  far  off. 

He  trembled,  and  his  fingers  tightened  on  hers. 

"  Why  ?  "  he >asked,  his  heart  beating.     "  You  don't  know?  " 

"  I  do,"  she  said. 

They  continued  without  saying  any  more,  walking  along 
opposite  horizons,  hand  in  hand  across  the  intervening  space> 
two  separate  people.  And  he  trembled  as  if  a  wind  blew 
on  to  him  in  strong  gusts,  out  of  the  unseen.  He  was  afraid. 
He  was  afraid  to  know  he  was  alone.  For  she  seemed  ful- 
filled and  separate  and  sufficient  in  her  half  of  the  world. 
He  could  not  bear  to  know  that  he  was  cut  off.  Why  could' 
he  not  be  always  one  with  her?  It  was  he  who  had  given 
her  the  child.  Why  could  she  not  be  with  him,  one  with 
him?  Why  must  he  be  set  in  this  separateness,  why  could 
she  not  be  with  him,  close,  close,  as  one  with  him?  She 
must  be  one  with  him. 

He  held  her  fingers  tightly  in  his  own.  She  did  not  know 
what  he  was  thinking.  The  blaze  of  light  on  her  heart  was 
too  beautiful  and  dazzling,  from  the  conception  in  her  womb 
She  walked  glorified,  and  the  sound  of  the  thrushes,  of  the 
trains  in  the  valley,  of  the  far-off,  faint  noises  of  the  town, 
were  her  "  Magnificat." 

But  he  was  struggling  in  silence.  It  seemed  as  though 
there  were  before  him  a  solid  wall  of  darkness  that  impeded 
him  and  suffocated  him  and  made  him  mad.  He  wanted  her 
to  come  to  him,  to  complete  him,  to  stand  before  him  so  that 
his  eyes  did  not,  should  not  meet  the  naked  darkness.  Noth- 
ing mattered  to  him  but  that  she  should  come  and  complete 
him.  For  he  was  ridden  by  the  awful  sense  of  his  own  limi* 


168  THE  RAINBOW 

tation.  It  was  as  if  he  ended  uncompleted,  as  yet  uncreated 
on  the  darkness,  and  he  wanted  her  to  come  and  liberate  him 
into  the  whole. 

But  she  was  complete  in  herself,  and  he  was  ashamed  of 
his  need,  his  helpless  need  of  her.  His  need,  and  his  shame 
of  need,  weighed  on  him  like  a  madness.  Yet  still  he  was 
quiet  and  gentle,  in  reverence  of  her  conception,  and  because 
she  was  with  child  by  him. 

And  she  was  happy  in  showers  of  sunshine.  She  loved 
her  husband,  as  a  presence,  as  a  grateful  condition.  But  for 
the  moment  her  need  was  fulfilled,  and  now  she  wanted  only 
to  hold  her  husband  by  the  hand  in  sheer  happiness,  without 
taking  thought,  only  being  glad. 

He  had  various  folios  of  reproductions,  and  among  them  a 
cheap  print  from  Fra  Angelico's  "  Entry  of  the  Blessed  into 
Paradise."  This  filled  Anna  with  bliss.  The  beautiful,  in- 
nocent way  in  which  the  Blessed  held  each  other  by  the  hand 
as  they  moved  towards  the  radiance,  the  real,  real,  angelic 
melody,  made  her  weep  with  happiness.  The  floweriness,  the 
beams  of  light,  the  linking  of  hands,  was  almost  too  much  for 
her,  too  innocent. 

Day  after  day  came  shining  through  the  door  of  Para- 
dise, day  after  day  she  entered  into  the  brightness.  The  child 
in  her  shone  till  she  herself  was  a  beam  of  sunshine ;  and  how 
lovely  was  the  sunshine  that  loitered  and  wandered  out  of 
doors,  where  the  catkins  on  the  big  hazel  bushes  at  the  end 
of  the  garden  hung  in  their  shaken,  floating  aureole,  where 
little  fumes  like  fire  burst  out  from  the  black  yew-trees  as  a 
bird  settled  clinging  to  the  branches.  One  day  bluebells  were 
along  the  hedge-bottoms,  then  cowslips  twinkled  like  manna, 
golden  and  evanescent  on  the  meadows.  She  was  full  of  a 
rich  drowsiness  and  loneliness.  How  happy  she  was,  how 
gorgeous  it  was  to  live:  to  have  known  herself,  her  husband, 
the  passion  of  love  and  begetting;  and  to  know  that  all  this 
lived  and  waited  and  burned  on  around  her,  a  terrible  puri- 
fying fire,  through  which  she  had  passed  for  once  to  come  to 
this  peace  of  golden  radiance,  when  she  was  with  child,  and 
innocent,  and  in  love  with  her  husband  and  with  all  the  many 
angels  hand  in  hand.  She  lifted  her  throat  to  the  breeze  that 
came  across  the  fields,  and  she  felt  it  handling  her  like  sisters 
fondling  her,  she  drank  it  in  perfume  of  cowslips  and  of 
appleblossoms. 


ANNA  VICTRIX  169 

And  in  all  the  happiness  a  black  shadow,  shy,  wild,  a  beast 
of  prey,  roamed  and  vanished  from  sight,  and  like  strands' 
of  gossamer  blown  across  her  eyes,  there  was  a  dread  for 
her. 

She  was  afraid  when  he  came  home  at  night.  As  yet,  her 
fear  never  spoke,  the  shadow  never  rushed  upon  her.  He 
was  gentle,  humble,  he  kept  himself  withheld.  His  hands 
were  delicate  upon  her,  and  she  loved  them.  But  there  ran 
through  her  the  thrill,  crisp  as  pain,  for  she  felt  the  darkness 
and  other-world  still  in  his  soft,  sheathed  hands. 

But  the  summer  drifted  in  with  the  silence  of  a  miracle, 
she  was  almost  always  alone.  All  the  while,  went  on  the 
long,  lovely  drowsiness,  the  maidenblush  roses  in  the  garden 
were  all  shed,  washed  away  in  a  pouring  rain,  summer  drifted 
into  autumn,  and  the  long,  vague,  golden  day  began  to  close. 
Crimson  clouds  fumed  about  the  west,  and  as  night  came  on, 
all  the  sky  was  fuming  and  steaming,  and  the  moon,  far  above 
the  swiftness  of  vapours,  was  white,  bleared,  the  night  was 
uneasy.  Suddenly  the  moon  would  appear  at  a  clear  window 
in  the  sky,  looking  down  from  far  above,  like  a  captive.  And 
Anna  did  not  sleep.  There  was  a  strange,  dark  tension  about 
her  husband. 

She  became  aware  that  he  was  trying  to  force  his  will  upon 
her,  something,  there  was  something  he  wanted,  as  he  lay 
there  dark  and  tense.  And  her  soul  sighed  in  weariness. 

Everything  was  so  vague  and  lovely,  and  he  wanted  to  wake 
her  up  to  the  hard,  hostile  reality.  She  drew  back  in  resist- 
ance. Still  he  said  nothing.  But  she  felt  his  power  per- 
sisting on  her,  till  she  became  aware  of  the  strain,  she  cried 
out  against  the  exhaustion.  He  was  forcing  her,  he  was 
forcing  her.  And  she  wanted  so  much  the  joy  and  the  vague- 
ness and  the  innocence  of  her  pregnancy.  She  did  not  want 
his  bitter-corrosive  love,  she  did  not  want  it  poured  into  her, 
to  burn  her.  Why  must  she  have  it?  Why,  oh,  why  was  he 
not  content,  contained? 

She  sat  many  hours  by  the  window,  in  those  days  when  he 
drove  her  most  with  the  black  constraint  of  his  will,  and  she 
watched  the  rain  falling  on  the  yew-trees.  She  was  not  sad, 
only  wistful,  blanched.  The  child  under  her  heart  was  a  per- 
petual warmth.  And  she  was  sure.  The  pressure  was  only 
upon  her  from  the  outside,  her  soul  had  no  stripes. 

Yet  in  her  heart  itself  was  always  this  same  strain,  tense. 


170  THE  RAINBOW 

anxious.  She  was  not  safe,  she  was  always  exposed,  she  was 
always  attacked.  There  was  a  yearning  in  her  for  a  fulness 
of  peace  and  blessedness.  What  a  heavy  yearning  it  was 
—  so  heavy. 

She  knew,  vaguely,  that  all  the  time  he  was  not  satisfied, 
all  the  time  he  was  trying  to  force  something  from  her.  Ah, 
how  she  wished  she  could  succeed  with  him,  in  her  own  way ! 
He  was  there,  so  inevitable.  She  lived  in  him  also.  And 
how  she  wanted  to  be  at  peace  with  him,  at  peace.  She 
loved  him.  She  would  give  him  love,  pure  love.  With  a 
strange,  rapt  look  on  her  face,  she  awaited  his  homecoming 
that  night. 

Then,  when  he  came,  she  rose  with  her  hands  full  of  love, 
as  of  flowers,  radiant,  innocent.  A  dark  spasm  crossed  his 
face.  As  she  watched,  her  face  shining  and  flower-like  with 
innocent  love,  his  face  grew  dark  and  tense,  the  cruelty  gath- 
ered in  his  brows,  his  eyes  turned  aside,  she  saw  the  whites  of 
his  eyes  as  he  looked  aside  from  her.  She  waited,  touching 
him  with  her  hands.  But  from  his  body  through  her  hands 
came  the  bitter-corrosive  shock  of  his  passion  upon  her,  de- 
stroying her  in  blossom.  She  shrank.  She  rose  from  her 
knees  and  went  away  from  him,  to  preserve  herself.  And  it 
was  great  pain  to  her. 

To  him  also  it  was  agony.  He  saw  the  glistening,  flower- 
like  love  in  her  face,  and  his  heart  was  black  because  he  did 
not  want  it.  Not  this  —  not  this.  He  did  not  want  flowery 
innocence.  He  was  unsatisfied.  The  rage  and  storm  of  un- 
satisfaction  tormented  him  ceaselessly.  Why  had  she  not 
satisfied  him?  He  had  satisfied  her.  She  was  satisfied,  at| 
peace,  innocent  round  the  doors  of  her  own  paradise. 

And  he  was  unsatisfied,  unfulfilled,  he  raged  in  torment, 
iranting,  wanting.  It  was  for  her  to  satisfy  him :  then  let 
her  do  it.  Let  her  not  come  with  flowery  handfuls  of  inno- 
cent love.  He  would  throw  these  aside  and  trample  the  flow- 
ers to  nothing.  He  would  destroy  her  flowery,  innocent  bliss. 
Was  he  not  entitled  to  satisfaction  from  her,  and  was  not  his 
heart  all  raging  desire,  his  soul  a  black  torment  of  unfulfil- 
ment.  Let  it  be  fulfilled  in  him,  then,  as  it  was  fulfilled  in 
her.  He  had  given  her  her  fulfilment.  Let  her  rise  up  and 
do  her  part. 

He  was  cruel  to  her.  But  all  the  time  he  was  ashamed. 
And  being  ashamed,  he  was  more  cruel.  For  he  was  ashamed 


ANNA  VICTRIX  171 

that  he  could  not  come  to  fulfilment  without  her.     And  he 
could  not.     And  she  would  not  heed  him.     He  was  shackled 
I) and  in  darkness  of  torment. 

She  beseeched  him  to  work  again,  to  do  his  wood-carving. 
But  his  soul  was  too  black.  He  had  destroyed  his  panel  of 
Adam  and  Eve.  He  could  not  begin  again,  least  of  all  now, 
whilst  he  was  in  this  condition. 

For  her  there  was  no  final  release,  since  he  could  not  be 

liberated  from  himself.     Strange  and  amorphous,  she  must 

i  go  yearning  on  through  the  trouble,  like  a  warm,  glowing 

cloud  blown  in  the  middle  of  a  storm.     She  felt  so  rich,  in 

I  [her  warm  vagueness,  that  her  soul  cried  out  on  him,  because 

he  harried  her  and  wanted  to  destroy  her. 

She  had  her  moments  of  exaltation  still,  re-births  of  olcf, 
exaltations.  As  she  sat  by  her  bedroom  window,  watching 
the  steady  rain,  her  spirit  was  somewhere  far  off. 

She  sat  in  pride  and  curious  pleasure.     When  there  was 
no  one  to  exult  with,  and  the  unsatisfied  soul  must  dance  and 
I  play,  then  one  danced  before  the  Unknown. 

Suddenly  she  realized  that  this  was  what  she  wanted  to 
I  do.     Big  with  child  as  she  was,  she  danced  fhere  in  the  bed- 
room by  herself,  lifting  her  hands  and  her  body  to  the  Unseen, 
I  to  the  unseen  Creator  who  had  chosen  her,  to  Whom  she  be- 
j  longed. 

She  would  not  have  had  any  one  know.  She  danced  in 
I  secret,  and  her  soul  rose  in  bliss.  She  danced  in  secret  before 
:  the  Creator,  she  took  off  her  clothes  and  danced  in  the  pride 
I  of  her  bigness. 

It  surprised  her,  when  it  was  over.     She  was  shrinking  and 
afraid.     To  what  was  she  now  exposed  ?     She  half  wanted  to 
I  tell  her  husband.     Yet  she  shrank  from  him. 

All  the  time  she  ran  on  by  herself.     She  liked  the  story  of 
j  David,  who  danced  before  the  Lord,  and  uncovered  himself 
exultingly.     Why   should  he   uncover  himself  to   Michal,   a 
common  woman  ?     He  uncovered  himself  to  the  Lord. 

"  Thou  comest  to  me  with  a  sword  and  a  spear  and  a  shield, 
but  I  come  to  thee  in  the  name  of  the  Lord :  —  for  the  battle  is 
the  Lord's,  and  he  will  give  you  into  our  hands." 

Her  heart  rang  to  the  words.  She  walked  in  her  pride. 
And  her  battle  was  her  own  Lord's,  her  husband  was  delivered 
over. 

In  these  days  she  was  oblivious  of  him.     Who  was  he,  to 


172  THE  RAINBOW 

come  against  her?  No,  he  was  not  even  the  Philistine,  the 
Giant.  He  was  like  Saul  proclaiming  his  own  kingship.  She 
laughed  in  her  heart.  Who  was  he,  proclaiming  his  king- 
ship? She  laughed  in  her  heart  with  pride. 

And  she  had  to  dance  in  exultation  beyond  him.  Because 
he  was  in  the  house,  she  had  to  dance  before  her  Creator  in 
exemption  from  the  man.  On  a  Saturday  afternoon,  when 
she  had  a  fire  in  the  bedroom,  again  she  took  off  her  things 
and  danced,  lifting  her  knees  and  her  hands  in  a  slow, 
rhythmic  exulting.  He  was  in  the  house,  so  her  pride  was 
fiercer.  She  would  dance  his  nullification,  she  would  dance 
to  her  unseen  Lord.  She  was  exalted  over  him,  before  the 
Lord. 

She  heard  him  coming  up  the  stairs,  and  she  flinched.  She 
stood  with  the  firelight  on  her  ankles  and  feet,  naked  in  the 
shadowy,  late  afternoon,  fastening  up  her  hair.  He  was 
startled.  He  stood  in  the  doorway,  his  brows  black  and  lower- 
ing. 

"  What  are  you  doing  ?  "  he  said,  gratingly.  "  You'll  catch 
a  cold." 

And  she  lifted  her  hands  and  danced  again,  to  annul  him, 
the  light  glanced  on  her  knees  as  she  made  her  slow,  fine  move- 
ments down  the  far  side  of  the  room,  across  the  firelight.  He 
stood  away  near  the  door  in  blackness  of  shadow,  watching, 
transfixed.  And  with  slow,  heavy  movements  she  swayed 
backwards  and  forwards,  like  a  full  ear  of  corn,  .pale  in  the 
dusky  afternoon,  threading  before  the  firelight,  dancing  his 
non-existence,  dancing  herself  to  the  Lord,  to  exultation. 

He  watched,  and  his  soul  burned  in  him.  He  turned  aside, 
he  could  not  look,  it  hurt  his  eyes.  Her  fine  limbs  lifted  and 
lifted,  her  hair  was  sticking  out  all  fierce,  and  her  belly,  big, 
strange,  terrifying,  uplifted  to  the  Lord.  Her  face  was  rapt 
and  beautiful,  she  danced  exulting  before  her  Lord,  and  knew 
no  man. 

It  hurt  him  as  he  watched  as  if  he  were  at  the  stake.  H< 
felt  he  was  being  burned  alive.  The  strangeness,  the  powc 
of  her  in  her  dancing  consumed  him,  he  was  burned,  he  couli 
not  grasp,  he  could  not  understand.  He  waited  obliterated 
Then  his  eyes  became  blind  to  her,  he  saw  her  no  more.  Ark 
through  the  unseeing  veil  between  them  he  called  to  her, 
his  jarring  voice : 

"  What  are  you  doing  that  for  ?  " 

"  Go  away,"  she  said.     "  Let  me  dance  by  myself." 


ANNA  VICTRIX  173 

"  That  isn't  dancing/'  he  said  harshly.  "  "What  do  you 
want  to  do  that  for  ?  " 

"  I  don't  do  it  for  you/'  she  said.     "  You  go  away." 

Her  strange,  lifted  belly,  big  with  his  child!  Had  he  no 
right  to  be  there?  He  felt  his  presence  a  violation.  Yet  he 
had  his  right  to  be  there.  He  went  and  sat  on  the  bed. 

She  stopped  dancing,  and  confronted  him,  again  lifting  her 
slim  arms  and  twisting  at  her  hair.  Her  nakedness  hurt  her, 
opposed  to  him. 

"  I  can  do  as  I  like  in  my  bedroom/'  she  cried.  "  Why  do 
you  interfere  with  me  ?  " 

And  she  slipped  on  a  dressing-gown  and  crouched  before 
the  fire.  He  was  more  at  ease  now  she  was  covered  up.  The 
vision  of  her  tormented  him  all  the  days  of  his  life,  as  she 
had  been  then,  a  strange,  exalted  thing  having  no  relation  to 
himself. 

After  this  day,  the  door  seemed  to  shut  on  his  mind.  His 
brow  shut  and  became  impervious.  His  eyes  ceased  to  see} 
his  hands  were  suspended.  Within  himself  his  will  waa 
coiled  like  a  beast,  hidden  under  the  darkness,  but  always 
potent,  working. 

At  first  she  went  on  blithely  enough  with  him  shut  down 
beside  her.  But  then  his  spell  began  to  take  hold  of  her. 
The  dark,  seething  potency  of  him,  the  power  of  a  creature 
that  lies  hidden  and  exerts  its  will  to  the  destruction  of  the 
free-running  creature,  as  the  tiger  lying  in  the  darkness  of 
the  leaves  steadily  enforces  the  fall  and  death  of  the  light 
creatures  that  drink  by  the  waterside  in  the  morning,  grad- 
ually began  to  take  effect  on  her.  Though  he  lay  there  in  his 
darkness  and  did  not  move,  yet  she  knew  he  lay  waiting  for" 
her.  She  felt  his  will  fastening  on  her  and  pulling  her  down, 
even  whilst  he  was  silent  and  obscure. 

She  found  that,  in  all  her  outgoings  and  her  incomings,  he 
prevented  her.  Gradually  she  realized  that  she  was  being 
borne  down  by  him,  borne  down  by  the  clinging,  heavy  weight 
of  him,  that  he  was  pulling  her  down  as  a  leopard  clings  to  a 
wild  cow  and  exhausts  her  and  pulls  her  down. 

Gradually  she  realized  that  her  life,  her  freedom,  was  sink- 
ing under  the  silent  grip  of  his  physical  will.  He  wanted  her 
in  his  power.  He  wanted  to  devour  her  at  leisure,  to  have 
her.  At  length  she  realized  that  her  sleep  was  a  long  ache 
and  a  weariness  and  exhaustion,  because  of  his  will  fastened 
upon  her,  as  he  lay  there  beside  her,  during  the  night. 


174  THE  RAINBOW 

She  realized  it  all,  and  there  came  a  momentous  pause,  a 
pause  in  her  swift  running,  a  moment's  suspension  in  her  life,  I 
when  she  was  lost. 

Then  she  turned  fiercely  on  him,  and  fought  him.  He  was 
not  to  do  this  to  her,  it  was  monstrous.  What  horrible  hold 
did  he  want  to  have  over  her  body  ?  Why  did  he  want  to ' 
drag  her  down,  and  kill  her  spirit  ?  Why  did  he  want  to  deny 
her  spirit  ?  Why  did  he  deny  her  spirituality,  hold  her  for  a 
body  only  ?  And  was  he  to  claim  her  carcase  ? 

Some  vast,  hideous  darkness  he  seemed  to  represent  to  her. 

"What   do  you   do  to   me?"   she  cried.     "What   beastly 
thing  do  you  do  to  me?     You  put  a  horrible  pressure  on  my' 
head,  you  don't  let  me  sleep,  you  don't  let  me  live.     Every 
moment  of  your  life  you  are  doing  something  to  me,  some- 
thing horrible,  that  destroys  me.     There  is  something  horrible 
in  you,  something  dark  and  beastly  in  your  will.     What  do' 
you  want  of  me  ?     What  do  you  want  to  do  to  me  ?  " 

All  the  blood  in  his  body  went  black  and  powerful  and 
corrosive  as  he  heard  her.     Black  and  blind  with  hatred  of; 
her  he  was.     He  was  in  a  very  black  hell,  and  could  not  escape. 

He  hated  her  for  what  she  said.  Did  he  not  give  her 
everything,  was  she  not  everything  to  him?  And  the  shame 
was  a  bitter  fire  in  him,  that  she  was  everything  to  him,  that 
he  had  nothing  but  her.  And  then  that  she  should  taunt  him 
with  it,  that  he  could  not  escape !  The  fire  went  black  in  his 
veins.  For  try  as  he  might,  he  could  not  escape.  She  was 
everything  to  him,  she  was  his  life  and  his  derivation.  He 
depended  on  her.  If  she  were  taken  away,  he  would  collapse 
as  a  house  from  which  the  central  pillar  is  removed. 

And  she  hated  him,  because  he  depended  on  her  so  utterly. 
He  was  horrible  to  her.  She  wanted  to  thrust  him  off,  to 
set  him  apart.  It  was  horrible  that  he  should  cleave  to  her, 
so  close,  so  close,  like  a  leopard  that  had  leapt  on  her,  and 
fastened. 

He  went  on  from  day  to  day  in  a  blackness  of  rage  and 
shame  and  frustration.  How  he  tortured  himself,  to  be  able 
to  get  away  from  her.  But  he  could  not.  She  was  as  the 
rock  on  which  he  stood,  with  deep,  heaving  water  all  round, 
and  he  was  unable  to  swim.  He  must  take  his  stand  on  her, 
he  must  depend  on  her. 

What  had  he  in  life,  save  her?  Nothing.  The  rest  was  a 
great  heaving  flood.  The  terror  of  the  night  of  heaving,  over- 
whelming flood,  which  was  his  vision  of  life  without  her,  was 


ANNA  VICTRIX  175 

too  much  for  him.     He  clung  to  her  fiercely  and  abjectly. 

And  she  beat  him  off,  she  beat  him  off.  Where  could  he 
turn,  like  a  swimmer  in  a  dark  sea,  beaten  off  from  his  hold, 
whither  could  he  turn?  He  wanted  to  leave  her,  he  wanted 
to  be  able  to  leave  her.  For  his  soul's  sake,  for  his  manhood's 
sake,  he  must  be  able  to  leave  her. 

But  for  what?  She  was  the  ark,  and  the  rest  of  the  world 
was  flood.  The  only  tangible,  secure  thing  was  the  woman. 
He  could  leave  her  only  for  another  woman.  And  where  was 
the  other  woman,  and  who  was  the  other  woman?  Besides, 
he  would  be  just  in  the  same  state.  Another  woman  would  be 
woman,  the  case  would  be  the  same. 

Why  was  she  the  all,  the  everything,  why  must  he  live  only 
through  her,  why  must  he  sink  if  he  were  detached  from  her  ? 
Why  must  he  cleave  to  her  in  a  frenzy  as  for  his  very  life? 

The  only  other  way  to  leave  her  was  to  die.  The  only 
straight  way  to  leave  her  was  to  die.  His  dark,  raging  soul 
knew  that.  But  he  had  no  desire  for  death. 

Why  could  he  not  leave  her?  Why  could  he  not  throw 
himself  into  the  hidden  water -to  live  or  die,  as  might  be? 
He  could  not,  he  could  not.  But  supposing  he  went  away, 
right  away,  and  found  work,  and  had  a  lodging  again.  He 
could  be  again  as  he  had  been  before. 

But  he  knew  he  could  not.  A  woman,  he  must  have  a 
woman.  And  having  a  woman,  he  must  be  free  of  her.  It 
would  be  the  same  position.  For  he  could  not  be  free  of  her. 

For  how  can  a  man  stand,  unless  he  have  something  sure 
under  his  feet.  Can  a  man  tread  the  unstable  water  all  his 
life,  and  call  that  standing?  Better  give  in  and  drown  at 
once. 

And  upon  what  could  he  stand,  save  upon  a  woman  ?  Was 
he  then  like  the  old  man  of  the  seas,  impotent  to  move  save 
upon  the  back  of  another  life?  Was  he  impotent,  or  a  crip- 
ple, or  a  defective,  or  a  fragment? 

It  was  black,  mad,  shameful  torture,  the  frenzy  of  fear,  the 
frenzy  of  desire,  and  the  horrible,  grasping  back-wash  of 
shame. 

What  was  he  afraid  of  ?  Why  did  life,  without  Anna,  seen?* 
to  him  just  a  horrible  welter,  everything  jostling  in  a  mean* 
ingless,  dark,  fathomless  flood  ?  Why,  if  Anna  left  him  eveil 
for  a  week,  did  he  seem  to  be  clinging  like  a  madman  to  the 
edge  of  reality,  and  slipping  surely,  surely  into  the  flood  of 
unreality  that  would  drown  him.  This  horrible  slipping  into 


176  THE  RAINBOW 

unreality  drove  him  mad,  his  soul  screamed  with  fear  and 
agony. 

Yet  she  was  pushing  him  off  from  her,  pushing  him  away, 
breaking  his  fingers  from  their  hold  on  her,  persistently,  ruth- 
lessly. He  wanted  her  to  have  pity.  And  sometimes  for  a 
moment  she  had  pity.  But  she  always  began  again,  thrusting 
him  off,  into  the  deep  water,  into  the  frenzy  and  agony  of 
uncertainty. 

She  became  like  a  fury  to  him,  without  any  sense  of  him. 
Her  eyes  were  bright  with  a  cold,  unmoving  hatred.  Then 
his  heart  seemed  to  die  in  its  last  fear.  She  might  push  him 
off  into  the  deeps. 

She  would  not  sleep  with  him  any  more.  She  said  he  de- 
stroyed her  sleep.  Up  started  all  his  frenzy  and  madness  of 
fear  and  suffering.  She  drove  him  away.  Like  a  cowed, 
lurking  devil  he  was  driven  off,  his  mind  working  cunningly 
against  her,  devising  evil  for  her.  But  she  drove  him  off. 
In  his  moments  of  intense  suffering,  she  seemed  to  him  incon- 
ceivable, a  monster,  the  principle  of  cruelty. 

However  her  pity  might  give  way  for  moments,  she  was 
hard  and  cold  as  a  jewel.  He  must  be  put  off  from  her,  she 
must  sleep  alone.  She  made  him  a  bed  in  the  small  room. 

And  he  lay  there  whipped,  his  soul  whipped  almost  to  death, 
yet  unchanged.  He  lay  in  agony  of  suffering,  thrown  back 
into  unreality,  like  a  man  thrown  overboard  into  a  sea,  to  swim 
till  he  sinks,  because  there  is  no  hold,  only  a  wide,  weltering 
sea. 

He  did  not  sleep,  save  for  the  white  sleep  when  a  thin  veil 
is  drawn  over  the  mind.  It  was  not  sleep.  He  was  awake, 
and  he  was  not  awake.  He  could  not  be  alone.  He  needed 
to  be  able  to  put  his  arms  round  her.  He  could  not  bear  the 
empty  space  against  his  breast,  where  she  used  to  be.  He 
could  not  bear  it.  He  felt  as  if  he  were  suspended  in  space, 
held  there  by  the  grip  of  his  will.  If  he  relaxed  his  will 
would  fall,  fall  through  endless  space,  into  the  bottomless  pit, 
always  falling,  will-less,  helpless,  non-existent,  just  dropping 
to  extinction,  falling  till  the  fire  of  friction  had  burned  out, 
like  a  falling  star,  then  nothing,  nothing,  complete  nothing. 

He  rose  in  the  morning  grey  and  unreal.  And  she  seemed 
fond  of  him  again,  she  seemed  to  make  up  to  him  a  little. 

"  I  slept  well,"  she  said,  with  her  slightly  false  brightness. 
"Did  you?" 

"  All  right,"  he  answered. 


ANNA  VICTRIX  177 

He  would  never  tell  her. 

For  three  or  four  nights  he  lay  alone  through  the  whit« 
sleep,  his  will  unchanged,  unchanged,  still  tense,  fixed  in  its 
grip.  Then,  as  if  she  were  revived  and  free  to  be  fond  of  him 
again,  deluded  by  his  silence  and  seeming  acquiescence,  moved 
also  by  pity,  she  took  him  back  again. 

Each  -night,  in  spite  of  all  the  shame,  he  had  waited  with 
agony  for  bedtime,  to  see  if  she  would  shut  him  out.  And 
each  night,  as,  in  her  false  brightness,  she  said  Good-night, 
he  felt  he  must  kill  her  or  himself.  But  she  asked  for  her 
kiss,  so  pathetically,  so  prettily.  So  he  kissed  her,  whilst  his 
heart  was  ice. 

And  sometimes  he  went  out.  Once  he  sat  for  a  long  time 
in  the  church  porch,  before  going  in  to  bed.  It  was  dark  with 
a  wind  blowing.  He  sat  in  the  church  porch  and  felt  some 
shelter,  some  security.  But  it  grew  cold,  and  he  must  go  in 
to  bed. 

Then  came  the  night  when  she  said,  putting  her  arms 
round  him  and  kissing  him  fondly : 

"  Stay  with  me  to-night,  will  you  ?  " 

And  he  had  stayed  without  demur.  But  his  will  had  not 
altered.  He  would  have  her  fixed  to  him. 

So  that  soon  she  told  him  again  she  must  be  alone. 

"  I  don't  want  to  send  you  away.  I  want  to  sleep  with  you. 
But  I  can't  sleep,  you  don't  let  me  sleep." 

His  blood  turned  black  in  his  veins. 

"What  do  you  mean  by  such  a  thing?  It's  an  arrant  lie. 
I  don't  let  you  sleep  — 

"But  you  don't.  I  sleep  so  well  when  I'm  alone.  And  I 
can't  sleep  when  you're  there.  You  do  something  to  me, 
you  put  a  pressure  on  my  head.  And  I  must  sleep,  now  the 
child  is  coming." 

"  It's  something  in  yourself,"  he  replied,  "  something  wrong 
in  you." 

Horrible  in  the  extreme  were  these  nocturnal  combats, 
when  all  the  world  was  asleep,  and  they  two  were  alone,  alone 
in  the  world,  and  repelling  each  other.  It  was  hardly  to  be 
borne. 

He  went  and  lay  down  alone.  And  at  length,  after  a  grey 
and  livid  and  ghastly  period,  he  relaxed,  something  gave  way 
in  him.  He  let  go,  he  did  not  care  what  became  of  him. 
Strange  and  dim  he  became  to  himself,  to  her,  to  everybody. 
A  vagueness  had  come  over  everything,  like  a  drowning.  And 


178  THE  RAINBOW 

it  was  an  infinite  relief  to  drown,  a  relief,  a  great,  great  relief. 

He  would  insist  no  more,  he  would  force  her  no  more.     He 
would  force  himself  upon  her  no  more.     He  would  let  go,  ' 
relax,  lapse,  and  what  would  be,  should  be. 

Yet  he  wanted  her  still,  he  always,  always  wanted  her.     In  ; 
his  soul,  he  was  desolate  as  a  child,  he  was  so  helpless.     Like 
a  child  on  its  mother,  he  depended  on  her  for  his  living.     He 
knew  it,  and  he  knew  he  could  hardly  help  it. 

Yet  he  must  be  able  to  be  alone.     He  must  be  able  to  lie  I 
down  alongside  the  empty  space,  and  let  be.     He  must  be 
able  to  leave  himself  to  the  flood,  to  sink  or  live  as  might  be. 
For  he  recognized  at  length  his  own  limitation,  and  the  limi- 
tation of  his  power.     He  had  to  give  in. 

There  was  a  stillness,  a  wanness  between  them.  Half  at 
least  of  the  battle  was  over.  Sometimes  she  wept  as  she  went 
about,  her  heart  was  very  heavy.  But  the  child  was  always 
warm  in  her  womb. 

They  were  friends  again,  new,  subdued  friends.  But  there 
was  a  wanness  between  them.  They  slept  together  once  more, 
very  quietly,  and  distinct,  not  one  together  as  before.  And 
she  was  intimate  with  him  as  at  first.  But  he  was  very  quiet, 
and  not  intimate.  He  was  glad  in  his  soul,  but  for  the  time 
taing  he  was  not  alive. 

He  could  sleep  with  her,  and  let  her  be.  He  could  be  alone 
How.  He  had  just  learned  what  it  was  to  be  able  to  be  alone. 
It  was  right  and  peaceful.  She  had  given  him  a  new,  deeper 
freedom.  The  world  might  be  a  welter  of  uncertainty,  but  he 
was  himself  now.  He  had  come  into  his  own  existence.  He 
was  born  for  a  second  time,  born  at  last  unto  himself,  out  of 
the  vast  body  of  humanity.  Now  at  .last  he  had  a  separate 
identity,  he  existed  alone,  even  if  he  were  not  quite  alone. 
Before  he  had  only  existed  in  so  far  as  he  had  relations  with 
another  being.  Now  he  had  an  absolute  self  —  as  well  as  a 
relative  self. 

But  it  was  a  very  dumb,  weak,  helpless  self,  a  crawling 
nursling.  He  went  about  very  quiet,  and  in  a  way,  submis- 
sive. He  had  an  unalterable  self  at  last,  free,  separate,  inde» 
pendent. 

She  was  relieved,  she  was  free  of  him.  She  had  given  him 
to  himself.  She  wept  sometimes  with  tiredness  and  helpless- 
ness. But  he  was  a  husband.  And  she  seemed,  in  the  child 
that  was  coming,  to  forget.  It  seemed  to  make  her  warm  and 


ANNA  VICTRIX  179 

drowsy.  She  lasped  into  a  long  muse,  indistinct,  warm, 
yague,  unwilling  to  be  taken  out  of  her  vagueness.  And  she 
rested  on  him  also. 

Sometimes  she  came  to  him  with  a  strange  light  in  her  eyes, 
poignant,  pathetic,  as  if  she  were  asking  for  something.  He 
looked  and  he  could  not  understand.  She  was  so  beautiful, 
so  visionary,  the  rays  seemed  to  go  out  of  his  breast  to  her, 
like  a  shining.  He  was  there  for  her,  all  for  her.  And  she 
would  hold  his  breast,  and  kiss  it,  and  kiss  it,  kneeling  beside 
him,  she  who  was  waiting  for  the  hour  of  her  delivery.  And 
he  would  lie  looking  down  at  his  breast,  till  it  seemed  that  his 
breast  was  not  himself,  that  he  had  left  it  lying  there.  Yet 
it  was  himself  also,  and  beautiful  and  bright  with  her  kisses. 
He  was  glad  with  a  strange,  radiant  pain.  Whilst  she  kneeled 
beside  him,  and  kissed  his  breast  with  a  slow,  rapt,  half-devo- 
tional movement. 

He  knew  she  wanted  something,  his  heart  yearned  to  give  it 
her.  His  heart  yearned  over  her.  And  as  she  lifted  her  face, 
that  was  radiant  and  rosy  as  a  little  cloud,  his  heart  still 
yearned  over  her,  and,  now  from  the  distance,  adored  her. 
She  had  a  flower-like  presence  which  he  adored  as  he  stood  far 
off,  a  stranger. 

The  weeks  passed  on,  the  time  drew  near,  they  were  ver^ 
gentle,  and  delicately  happy.  The  insistent,  passionate,  dark 
soul,  the  powerful  unsatisfaction  in  him  seemed  stilled  and 
tamed,  the  lion  lay  down  with  the  lamb  in  him. 

She  loved  him  very  much  indeed,  and  he  waited  near  her. 
She  was  a  precious,  remote  thing  to  him  at  this  time,  as  she 
waited  for  her  child.  Her  soul  was  glad  with  an  ecstasy  be- 
cause of  the  coming  infant.  She  wanted  a  boy :  oh,  very  much 
she  wanted  a  boy. 

But  she  seemed  so  young  and  so  frail.  She  was  indeed  only 
a  girl.  As  she  stood  by  the  fire  washing  herself  —  she  was 
proud  to  wash  herself  at  this  time  —  and  he  looked  at  her,  his 
heart  was  full  of  extreme  tenderness  for  her.  Such  fine,  fine 
limbs,  her  slim,  round  arms  like  chasing  lights,  and  her  legs  so 
simple  and  childish,  yet  so  very  proud.  Oh,  she  stood  on 
proud  legs,  with  a  lovely  reckless  balance  of  her  full  belly,  and 
the  adorable  little  roundnesses,  and  the  breasts  becoming  im- 
portant. Above  it  all,  her  face  was  like  a  rosy  cloud  shining. 

How  proud  she  was,  what  a  lovely  proud  thing  her  young 
body !  And  she  loved  him  to  put  his  hand  on  her  ripe  fulness, 


180  THE  RAINBOW 

so  that  he  should  thrill  also  with  the  stir  and  the  quickening 
there.  He  was  afraid  and  silent,  but  she  flung  her  arms 
round  his  neck  with  proud,  impudent  joy. 

The  pains  came  on,  and  Oh  —  how  she  cried!  She  would 
have  him  stay  with  her.  And  after  her  long  cries  she  would 
look  at  him,  with  tears  in  her  eyes  and  a  sobbing  laugh  on 
her  face,  saying: 

"I  don't  mind  it  really/' 

It  was  bad  enough.  But  to  her  it  was  never  deathly. 
Even  the  fierce,  tearing  pain  was  exhilarating.  She  screamed 
and  suffered,  but  was  all  the  time  curiously  alive  and  vital. 
She  felt  so  powerfully  alive  and  in  the  hands  of  such  a  mas- 
terly force  of  life,  that  her  bottom-most  feeling  was  one  of 
exhilaration.  She  knew  she  was  winning,  winning,  she  was 
always  winning,  with  each  onset  of  pain  she  was  nearer  to 
victory. 

Probably  he  suffered  more  than  she  did.  He  was  not 
shocked  or  horrified.  But  he  was  screwed  very  tight  in  the 
vise  of  suffering. 

It  was  a  girl.  The  second  of  silence  on  her  face  when  they 
said  so  showed  him  she  was  disappointed.  And  a  great 
blazing  passion  of  resentment  and  protest  sprang  up  in  his 
heart.  In  that  moment  he  claimed  the  child. 

But  when  the  milk  came,  and  the  infant  sucked  her  breast, 
she  seemed  to  be  leaping  with  extravagant  bliss. 

"  It  sucks  me,  it  sucks  me,  it  likes  me  —  oh,  it  loves  it ! " 
she  cried,  holding  the  child  to  her  breast  with  her  two  hands 
covering  it,  passionately. 

And  in  a  few  moments,  as  she  became  used  to  her  bliss,  she 
looked  at  the  youth  with  glowing,  unseeing  eyes,  and  said : 

"  Anna  Victrix." 

He  went  away,  trembling,  and  slept.  To  her,  her  pains 
were  the  wound-smart  of  a  victor,  she  was  the  prouder. 

When  she  was  well  again  she  was  very  happy.  She  called 
the  baby  Ursula.  Both  Anna  and  her  husband  felt  they  must 
have  a  name  that  gave  them  private  satisfaction.  The  baby 
was  tawny  skinned,  it  had  a  curious  downy  skin,  and  wisps 
of  bronze  hair,  and  the  yellow  grey  eyes  that  wavered,  and 
then  became  golden-brown  like  the  father's.  So  they  called 
her  Ursula  because  of  the  picture  of  the  saint. 

It  was  a  rather  delicate  baby  at  first,  but  soon  it  became 
stronger,  and  was  restless  as  a  young  eel.  Anna  was  worn 
out  with  the  day-long  wrestling  with  its  young  vigour. 


ANNA  VICTRIX  181 

As  a  little  animal,  she  loved  and  adored  it  and  was  happy, 
She  loved  her  husband,  she  kissed  his  eyes  and  nose  and 
mouth,,  and  made  much  of  him,  she  said  his  limbs  were 
beautiful,  she  was  fascinated  by  the  physical  form  of 
him. 

And  she  was  indeed  Anna  Victrix.  He  could  not  combat 
her  any  more.  He  was  out  in  the  wilderness,  alone  with  her. 
Having  occasion  to  go  to  London,  he  marvelled,  as  he  re- 
turned, thinking  of  naked,  lurking  savages  on  an  island,  how 
these  had  built  up  and  created  the  great  mass  of  Oxford  Street 
or  Piccadilly.  How  had  helpless  savages,  running  with  their 
spears  on  the  riverside,  after  fish,  how  had  they  come  to  rear 
up  this  great  London,  the  ponderous,  massive,  ugly  super- 
structi,ire  of  a  world  of  man  upon  a  world  of  nature !  It 
frightened  and  awed  him.  Man  was  terrible,  awful  in  his 
works.  The  works  of  man  were  more  terrible  than  man  him- 
self, almost  monstrous. 

And  yet,  for  his  own  part,  for  his  private  being,  Brangwen 
felt  that  the  whole  of  the  man's  world  was  exterior  and 
extraneous  to  his  own  real  life  with  Anna.  Sweep  away  the 
whole  monstrous  superstructure  of  the  world  of  to-day,  cities 
and  industries  and  civilization,  leave  only  the  bare  earth  with 
plants  growing  and  waters  running,  and  he  would  not  mind, 
so  long  as  he  were  whole,  had  Anna  and  the  child  and  the  new, 
strange  certainty  in  his  soul.  Then,  if  he  were  naked,  he 
would  find  clothing  somewhere,  he  would  make  a  shelter  and 
bring  food  to  his  wife. 

And  what  more?  What  more  would  be  necessary?  The 
great  mass  of  activity  in  which  mankind  was  engaged  meant 
nothing  to  him.  By  nature,  he  had  no  part  in  it.  What  did 
he  live  for,  then  ?  For  Anna  only,  and  for  the  sake  of  living  ? 
What  did  he  want  on  this  earth  ?  Anna  only,  and  his  chil- 
dren, and  his  life  with  his  children  and  her?  Was  there  no 
more  ? 

He  was  attended  by  a  sense  of  something  more,  something 
further,  which  gave  him  absolute  being.  It  was  as  if  now  he 
existed  in  Eternity,  let  Time  be  what  it  might.  What  was 
there  outside?  The  fabricated  world,  that  he  did  not  believe 
in?  What  should  he  bring  to  her,  from  outside?  Nothing? 
Was  it  enough,  as  it  was?  He  was  troubled  in  his  acquies- 
cence. She  was  not  with  him.  Yet  he  scarcely  believed  in 
himself,  apart  from  her,  though  the  whole  Infinite  was  with 
him.  Let  the  whole  world  slide  down  and  over  the  edge  of 


182  THE  RAINBOW 

oblivion,  he  would  stand  alone.  But  he  was  unsure  of  her. 
And  he  existed  also  in  her.  So  he  was  unsure. 

He  hovered  near  to  her,  never  quite  able  to  forget  the  vague, 
haunting  uncertainty,  that  seemed  to  challenge  him,  and  which 
he  v  ould  not  hear.  A  pang  of  dread,  almost  guilt,  as  of  in- 
sufficiency, would  go  over  him  as  he  heard  her  talking  to  the 
baby.  She  stood  before  the  window,  with  the  month-old  child 
in  her  arms,  talking  in  a  musical,  young  sing-song  that  he 
had  not  heard  before,  and  which  rang  on  his  heart  like  a 
claim  from  the  distance,  or  the  voice  of  another  world  sound- 
ing its  claim  on  him.  He  stood  near,  listening,  and  his  heart 
surged,  surged  to  rise  and  submit.  Then  it  shrank  back  and 
stayed  aloof.  He  could  not  move,  a  denial  was  upon  him,  as 
if  he  could  not  deny  himself.  He  must,  he  must  be  himself. 

"  Look  at  the  silly  blue-caps,  my  beauty/'  she  crooned, 
holding  up  the  infant  to  the  window,  where  shone  the  white 
garden,  and  the  blue-tits  scuffling  in  the  snow:  "look  at  the 
silly  blue-caps,  my  darling,  having  a  fight  in  the  snow !  Look 
at  them,  my  bird  —  beating  the  snow  about  with  their  wings, 
and  shaking  their  heads.  Oh,  aren't  they  wicked  things, 
wicked  things!  Look  at  their  yellow  feathers  on  the  snow 
there !  They'll  miss  them,  won't  they,  when  they're  cold 
later  on. 

"  Must  we  tell  them  to  stop,  must  we  say  (  stop  it '  to  them, 
my  bird  ?  But  they  are  naughty,  naughty !  Look  at  them !  " 
Suddenly  her  voice  broke  loud  and  fierce,  she  rapped  the  pane 
sharply : 

"  Stop  it,"  she  cried,  "  stop  it,  you  little  nuisances.  Stop 
it ! "  She  called  louder,  and  rapped  the  pane  more  sharply. 
Her  voice  was  fierce  and  imperative. 

"  Have  more  sense,"  she  cried. 

"  There,  now  they're  gone.  Where  have  they  gone,  the  silly 
things?  What  will  they  say  to  each  other?  What  will  they 
gay,  my  lambkin?  They'll  forget,  won't  they,  they'll  forget 
all  about  it,  out  of  their  silly  little  heads,  and  their  blue  caps." 

After  a  moment,  she  turned  her  bright  face  to  her  husband. 
They  were  really  fighting,  they  were  really  fierce  with 
other !  "  she  said,  her  voice  keen  with  excitement  and 
wonder,  as  if  she  belonged  to  the  birds'  world,  were  identified 
with  the  race  of  birds. 

"  Ay,  they'll  fight,  will  blue-caps,"  he  said,  glad  when  she 
turned  to  him  with  her  glow  from  elsewhere.  He  came  and 
stood  beside  her  and  looked  out  at  the  marks  on  the  snow 


ANNA  VICTRIX  18« 

where  the  birds  had  scuffled,  and  at  the  yew-trees'  burdened, 
white  and  black  branches.  What  was  the  appeal  it  made  to 
him,  what  was  the  question  of  her  bright  face,  what  was  the 
challenge  he  was  called  to  answer?  He  did  not  know.  But 
as  he  stood  there  he  felt  some  responsibility  which  made  him 
glad,  but  uneasy,  as  if  he  must  put  out  his  own  light.  And 
he  could  not  move  as  yet. 

Anna  loved  the  child  very  much,  oh,  very  much.  Yet  still 
she  was  not  quite  fulfilled.  She  had  a  slight  expectant  feel- 
ing, as  of  a  door  half  opened.  Here  she  was,  safe  and  still 
in  Cossethay.  But  she  felt  as  if  she  were  not  in  Cossethay  at 
all.  She  was  straining  her  eyes  to  something  beyond.  And 
from  her  Pisgah  mount,  which  she  had  attained,  what  could 
she  see?  A  faint,  gleaming  horizon,  a  long  way  off,  and  a 
rainbow  like  an  archway,  a  shadow-door  with  faintly  coloured 
coping  above  it.  Must  she  be  moving  thither? 

Something  she  had  not,  something  she  did  not  grasp,  could 
not  arrive  at.  There  was  something  beyond  her.  But  why 
must  she  start  on  the  journey?  She  stood  so  safely  on  the 
Pisgah  mountain. 

In  the  winter,  when  she  rose  with  the  sunrise,  and  out  of 
the  back  windows  saw  the  east  flaming  yellow  and  orange 
above  the  green,  glowing  grass,  while  the  great  pear-tree  in 
between  stood  dark  and  magnificent  as  an  idol,  and  under 
the  dark  pear-tree,  the  little  sheet  of  water  spread  smooth  in 
burnished,  yellow  light,  she  said,  "  It  is  here."  And  when, 
at  evening,  the  sunset  came  in  a  red  glare  through  the  big 
opening  in  the  clouds,  she  said  again,  "It  is  beyond." 

Dawn  and  sunset  were  the  feet  of  the  rainbow  that  spanned 
the  day,  and  she  saw  the  hope,  the  promise.  Why  should  she 
travel  any  further? 

Yet  she  always  asked  the  question.  As  the  sun  went  down 
in  his  fiery  winter  haste,  she  faced  the  blazing  close  of  the 
affair,  in  which  she  had  not  played  her  fullest  part,  and  she 
made  her  demand  still:  "What  are  you  doing,  making  thi? 
big  shining  commotion?  What  is  it  that  you  keep  so  busy 
about,  that  you  will  not  let  us  alone  ?  " 

She  did  not  turn  to  her  husband,  for  him  to  lead  her.  He 
was  apart  from  her,  with  her,  according  to  her  different  con- 
ceptions of  him.  The  child  she  might  hold  up,  she  might 
toss  the  child  forward  into  the  furnace,  the  child  might  walk 
there,  amid  the  burning  coals  and  the  incandescent  roar  of 
heat,  as  the  three  witnesses  walked  with  the  angel  in  the  fire. 


184  THE  RAINBOW 

Soon,  she  felt  sure  of  her  husband.  She  knew  his  dark 
face  and  the  extent  of  its  passion.  She  knew  his  slim,  vigor- 
ous body,  she  said  it  was  hers.  Then  there  was  no  denying 
her.  She  was  a  rich  woman  enjoying  her  riches. 

And  soon  again  she  was  with  child.  Which  made  her  satis- 
fied and  took  away  her  discontent.  She  forgot  that  she  had 
watched  the  sun  climb  up  and  pass  his  way,  a  magnificent 
traveller  surging  forward.  She  forgot  that  the  moon  had 
looked  through  a  window  of  the  high,  dark  night,  and  nodded 
like  a  magic  recognition,  signalled  to  her  to  follow.  Sun 
and  moon  travelled  on,  and  left  her,  passed  her  by,  a  rich 
woman  enjoying  her  riches.  She  should  go  also.  But  she 
could  not  go,  when  they  called,  because  she  must  stay  at  home 
now.  With  satisfaction  she  relinquished  the  adventure  to  the 
unknown.  She  was  bearing  her  children. 

There  was  another  child  coming,  and  Anna  lapsed  into 
vague  content.  If  she  were  not  the  wayfarer  to  the  unknown, 
if  she  were  arrived  now,  settled  in  her  builded  house,  a  rich 
woman,  still  her  doors  opened  under  the  arch  of  the  rainbow, 
her  threshold  reflected  the  passing  of  the  sun  and  moon,  the 
great  travellers,  her  house  was  full  of  the  echo  of  journeying. 

She  was  a  door  and  a  threshold,  she  herself.  Through  her 
another  soul  was  coming,  to  stand  upon  her  as  upon  the 
threshold,  looking  out,  shading  its  eyes  for  the  direction  to 
take. 


CHAPTER  VII 

THE   CATHEDRAL 

DUBING  the  first  year  of  her  marriage,  before  Ursula 
was  born,  Anna  Brangwen  and  her  husband  went  to 
visit  her  mother's   friend,   the  Baron   Skrebenskv. 
The  latter  had  kept  a  slight  connection  with  Anna's 
mother,  and  had  always  preserved  some  officious  interest  in 
the  young  girl,  because  she  was  a  pure  Pole. 

When  Baron  Skrebensky  was  about  forty  years  old,  his 
wife  died,  and  left  him  raving,  disconsolate.  Lydia  had 
visited  him  then,  taking  Anna  with  her.  It  was  when  the 

firl  was  fourteen  years  old.  Since  then  she  had  not  seen  him, 
he  remembered  him  as  a  small  sharp  clergyman  who  cried 
and  talked  and  terrified  her,  whilst  her  mother  was  most 
strangely  consoling,  in  a  foreign  language. 

The  little  Baron  never  quite  approved  of  Anna,  because  she 
spoke  no  Polish.  Still,  he  considered  himself  in  some  way  her 
guardian,  on  Lensky's  behalf,  and  he  presented  her  with  some 
old,  heavy  Eussian  jewellery,  the  least  valuable  of  his  wife's 
relics.  Then  he  lapsed  out  of  the  Brangwen  life  again, 
though  he  lived  only  about  thirty  miles  away. 

Three  years  later  came  the  startling  news  that  he  had  mar- 
ried a  young  English  girl  of  good  family.  Everybody  mar- 
velled. Then  came  a  copy  of  "  The  History  of  the  Parish  of 
Briswell,  by  Eudolph,  Baron  Skrebensky,  Vicar  of  Briswell." 
It  was  a  curious  book,  incoherent,  full  of  interesting  exhuma- 
tions. It  was  dedicated:  "To  my  wife,  Millicent  Maud 
Pearse,  in  whom  I  embrace  the  generous  spirit  of  England." 

"  If  he  embraces  no  more  than  the  spirit  of  England,"  said 
Tom  Brangwen,  "  it's  a  bad  look-out  for  him." 

But  paying  a  formal  visit  with  his  wife,  he  found  the  new 
Baroness  a  little,  creamy-skinned,  insidious  thing  with  red- 
brown  hair  and  a  mouth  that  one  must  always  watch,  because 
it  curved  back  continually  in  an  incomprehensible,  strange 
laugh  that  exposed  her  rather  prominent  teeth.  She  was  not 
beautiful,  yet  Tom  Brangwen  was  immediately  under  her 

185 


186  THE  RAINBOW 

spell.  She  seemed  to  snuggle  like  a  kitten  within  his  warmth, 
whilst  she  was  at  the  same  time  elusive  and  ironical,  suggest- 
ing the  fine  steel  of  her  claws. 

The  Baron  was  almost  dotingly  courteous  and  attentive  to 
her.  She,  almost  mockingly,  yet  quite  happy,  let  him  dote. 
Curious  little  thing  she  was,  she  had  the  soft,  creamy,  elusive 
beauty  of  a  ferret.  Tom  Brangwen  was  quite  at  a  loss,  at 
her  mercy,  and  she  laughed,  a  little  breathlessly,  as  if  tempted 
l;o  cruelty.  She  did  put  fine  torments  on  the  elderly  Baron. 

When  some  months  later  she  bore  a  son,  the  Baron  Skre- 
bensky  was  loud  with  delight. 

Gradually  she  gathered  a  circle  of  acquaintances  in  the 
county.  For  she  was  of  good  family,  half  Venetian,  educated 
in  Dresden.  The  little  foreign  vicar  attained  to  a  social 
status  which  almost  satisfied  his  maddened  pride. 

Therefore  the  Brangwens  were  surprised  when  the  invita- 
tion came  for  Anna  and  her  young  husband  to  pay  a  visit  to 
Briswell  vicarage.  For  the  Skrebenskys  were  now  moder- 
ately well  off,  Millicent  Skrebensky  having  some  fortune  of 
her  own. 

Anna  took  her  best  clothes,  recovered  her  best  high-school 
manner,  and  arrived  with  her  husband.  "Will  Brangwen, 
ruddy,  bright,  with  long  limbs  and  a  small  head,  like  some 
uncouth  bird,  was  not  changed  in  the  least.  The  little 
Baroness  was  smiling,  showing  her  teeth.  She  had  a  real 
charm,  a  kind  of  joyous  coldness,  laughing,  delighted,  like 
some  weasel.  Anna  at  once  respected  her,  and  was  on  her 
guard  before  her,  instinctively  attracted  by  the  strange,  child- 
like surety  of  the  Baroness,  yet  mistrusting  it,  fascinated. 
The  little  baron  was  now  quite  white-haired,  very  brittle. 
He  was  wizened  and  wrinkled,  yet  fiery,  unsubdued.  Anna 
looked  at  his  lean  body,  at  his  small,  fine,  lean  legs  and  lean 
hands  as  he  sat  talking,  and  she  flushed.  She  recognized  the 
quality  of  the  male  in  him,  his  lean,  concentrated  age,  his 
informed  fire,  his  faculty  for  sharp,  deliberate  response.  He 
was  so  detached,  so  purely  objective.  A  woman  was  thor- 
oughly outside  him.  There  was  no  confusion.  So  he  coulf 
give  that  fine,  deliberate  response. 

He  was  something  separate  and  interesting;  his  hard,  in- 
trinsic being,  whittled  down  by  age  to  an  essentiality  and 
directness  almost  death-like,  cruel,  was  yet  so  unswerving!] 
sure  in  its  action,  so  distinct  in  its  surety,  that  she  was  at 
tracted  to  him.     She  watched  his  cool,  hard,  separate  fii 


THE  CATHEDRAL  187 

fascinated  by  it.  Would  she  rather  have  it  than  her  hus- 
band's diffuse  heat,  than  his  blind,  hot  youth? 

She  seemed  to  be  breathing  high,  sharp  air,  as  if  she  had 
just  come  out  of  a  hot  room.  These  strange  Skrebenskys 
made  her  aware  of  another,  freer  element,  in  which  each  per- 
son was  detached  and  isolated.  Was  not  this  her  natural  ele- 
ment ?  Was  not  the  close  Brangwen  life  stifling  to  her  ? 

Meanwhile  the  little  baroness,  with  always  a  subtle  light 
stirring  in  her  full,  lustrous,  hazel  eyes,  was  playing  with 
Will  Brangwen.  He  was  not  quick  enough  to  see  all  her 
movements.  Yet  he  watched  her  steadily,  with  unchanging, 
lit-up  eyes.  She  was  a  strange  creature  to  him.  But  she 
had  no  power  over  him.  She  flushed,  and  was  irritated.  Yet 
she  glanced  again  and  again  at  his  dark,  living  face,  curiously, 
as  if  she  despised  him.  She  despised  his  uncritical,  unironi- 
cal  nature,  it  had  nothing  for  her,  Yet  it  angered  her  as  if 
she  were  jealous.  He  watched  her  with  deferential  interest 
as  he  would  watch  a  stoat  playing.  But  he  himself  was  not 
implicated.  He  was  different  in  kind.  She  was  all  lambent, 
biting  flames,  he  was  a  red  fire  glowing  steadily.  She  could 
get  nothing  out  of  him.  So  she  made  him  flush  darkly  by 
assuming  a  biting,  subtle  class-superiority.  He  flushed,  but 
still  he  did  not  object.  He  was  too  different. 

Her  little  boy  came  in  with  the  nurse.  He  was  a  quick, 
slight  child,  with  fine  perceptiveness,  and  a  cool  transitoriness 
in  his  interest.  At  once  he  treated  Will  Brangwen  as  an  out- 
sider. He  stayed  by  Anna  for  a  moment,  acknowledged  her, 
then  was  gone  again,  quick,  observant,  restless,  with  a  glance 
of  interest  at  everything. 

The  father  adored  him,  and  spoke  to  him  in  Polish.  It 
was  queer,  the  stiff,  aristocratic  manner  of  the  father  with 
the  child,  the  distance  in  the  relationship,  the  classic  father- 
hood on  the  one  hand,  the  filial  subordination  on  the  other. 
They  played  together,  in  their  different  degrees  very  separate, 
two  different  beings,  differing  as  it  were  in  rank  rather  than 
in  relationship.  And  the  baroness  smiled,  smiled,  smiled, 
always  smiled,  showing  her  rather  protruding  teeth,  having 
always  a  mysterious  attraction  and  charm. 

Anna  realized  how  different  her  own  life  might  have  been, 
how  different  her  own  living.  Her  soul  stirred,  she  became 
as  another  person.  Her  intimacy  with  her  husband  passed 
away,  the  curious  enveloping  Brangwen  intimacy,  so  warm, 
so  close,  so  stifling,  when  one  seemed  always  to  be  in  contact 


188  THE  RAINBOW 

with  the  other  person,  like  a  blood-relation,  was  annulled. 
She  denied  it,  this  close  relationship  with  her  young  husband. 
He  and  she  were  not  one.  His  heat  was  not  always  to  suffuse 
her,  suffuse  her,  through  her  mind  and  her  individuality,  till 
she  was  of  one  heat  with  him,  till  she  had  not  her  own  self 
apart.  She  wanted  her  own  life.  He  seemed  to  lap  her  and 
suffuse  her  with  his  being,  his  hot  life,  till  she  did  not  know 
whether  she  were  herself,  or  whether  she  were  another  crea- 
ture, united  with  him  in  a  world  of  close  blood-intimacy  that 
closed  over  her  and  excluded  her  from  all  the  cool  outside. 

She  wanted  her  own,  old,  sharp  self,  detached,  detached, 
active  but  not  absorbed,  active  for  her  own  part,  taking  and 
giving,  but  never  absorbed.  Whereas  he  wanted  this  strange 
absorption  with  her,  which  still  she  resisted.  But  she  was 
partly  helpless  against  it.  She  had  lived  so  long  in  Tom 
Brangwen's  love,  beforehand. 

From  the  Skrebenskys',  they  went  to  Will  Brangwen's  be- 
loved Lincoln  Cathedral,  because  it  was  not  far  off.  He  had 
promised  her,  that  one  by  one,  they  should  visit  all  the  cathe- 
drals of  England.  They  began  with  Lincoln,  which  he  knew 
well. 

He  began  to  get  excited  as  the  time  drew  near  to  set  off. 
What  was  it  that  changed  him  so  much?  She  was  almost 
angry,  coming  as  she  did  frpm  the  Skrebenskys'.  But  now 
he  ran  on  alone.  His  very  breast  seemed  to  open  its  doors  to 
watch  for  the  great  church  brooding  over  the  town.  His  soul 
ran  ahead. 

When  he  saw  the  cathedral  in  the  distance,  dark  blue  lifted 
watchful  in  the  sky,  his  heart  leapt.  It  was  the  sign  in 
heaven,  it  was  the  Spirit  hovering  like  a  dove,  like  an  eagle 
over  the  earth.  He  turned  his  glowing,  ecstatic  face  to  her; 
his  mouth  opened  with  a  strange,  ecstatic  grin. 

"'There  she  is,"  he  said. 

The  "she"  irritated  her.  Why  "she"?  It  was  "it." 
What  was  the  cathedral,  a  big  building,  a  thing  of  the  past, 
obsolete,  to  excite  him  to  such  a  pitch?  She  began  to  stir 
herself  to  readiness. 

They  passed  up  the  steep  hill,  he  eager  as  a  pilgrim  arriving 
at  the  shrine.  As  they  came  near  the  precincts,  with  castle 
on  one  side  and  cathedral  on  the  other,  his  veins  seemed  to 
break  into  fiery  blossom,  he  was  transported. 

They  had  passed  through  the  gate,  and  the  great  west  front 
was  before  them,  with  all  its  breadth  and  ornament. 


THE  CATHEDRAL  189 

"It  is  a  false  front,"  he  said,  looking  at  the  golden  stone 
and  the  twin  towers,  and  loving  them  just  the  same.  In  a 
little  ecstasy  he  found  himself  in  the  porch,  on  the  .brink  of 
the  unrevealed.  He  looked  up  to  the  lovely  unfolding  of  the 
stone.  He  was  to  pass  within  to  the  perfect  womb. 

Then  he  pushed  open  the  door,  and  the  great,  pillared 
gloom  was  before  him,,  in  which  his  soul  shuddered  and  rose 
from  her  nest.  His  soul  leapt,  soared  up  into  the  great 
church.  His  body  stood  still,  absorbed  by  the  height.  His 
soul  leapt  up  into  the  gloom,  into  possession,  it  reeled,  it 
swooned  with  a  great  escape,  it  quivered  in  the  womb,  in  the 
hush  and  the  gloom  of  fecundity,  like  seed  of  procreation  in 
ecstasy. 

She  too  was  overcome  with  wonder  and  awe.  She  followed 
him  in  his  progress.  Here,  the  twilight  was  the  very  essence 
of  life,  the  coloured  darkness  was  the  £mbryo  of  all  light,  and 
the  day.  Here,  the  very  first  dawn  was  breaking,  the  very 
last  sunset  sinking,  and  the  immemorial  darkness,  whereof 
life's  day  would  blossom  and  fall  away  again,  re-echoed  peace 
and  profound  immemorial  silence. 

Away  from  time,  always  outside  of  time!  Between  east 
and  west,  between  dawn  and  sunset,  the  church  lay  like  a  seed 
in  silence,  dark  before  germination,  silenced  after  death. 
Containing  birth  and  death,  potential  with  all  the  noise  and 
transitation  of  life,  the  cathedral  remained  hushed,  a  great, 
involved  seed,  whereof  the  flower  would  be  radiant  life  incon- 
ceivable, but  whose  beginning  and  whose  end  were  the  circle  of 
silence.  Spanned  round  with  the  rainbow,  the  jewelled  gloom 
folded  music  upon  silence,  light  upon  darkness,  fecundity 
upon  death,  as  a  seed  folds  leaf  upon  leaf  and  silence  upon 
the  root  and  the  flower,  hushing  up  the  secret  of  all  between 
its  parts,  the  death  out  of  which  it  fell,  the  life  into  which  it 
has  dropped,  the  immortality  it  involves,  and  the  death  it  will 
embrace  again. 

Here  in  the  church,  "  before "  and  "  after "  were  folded 
together,  all  was  contained  in  oneness.  Brangwen  came  to 
his  consummation.  Out  of  the  doors  of  the  womb  he  had 
come,  putting  aside  the  wings  of  the  womb,  and  proceeding 
into  the  light.  Through  daylight  and  day-after-day  he  had 
come,  knowledge  after  knowledge,  and  experience  after  experi- 
ence, remembering  the  darkness  of  the  womb,  having  pre- 
science of  the  darkness  after  death.  Then  between-while  he 
had  pushed  open  the  doors  of  the  cathedral,  and  entered  the 


190  THE  RAINBOW 

twilight  of  both,  darknesses,  the  hush  of  the  two-fold  silence, 
where  dawn  was  sunset,  and  the  beginning  and  the  end  were 
one. 

Here  the  stone  leapt  up  from  the  plain  of  earth,  leapt  up 
in  a  manifold,  clustered  desire  each  time,  up,  away  from  the 
horizontal  earth,  through  twilight  and  dusk  and  the  whole 
range  of  desire,  through  the  swerving,  the  declination,  ah,  to 
the  ecstasy,  the  touch,  to  the  meeting  and  the  consummation, 
the  meeting,  the  clasp,  the  close  embrace,  the  neutrality,  the 
perfect,  swooning  consummation,  the  timeless  ecstasy.  There 
his  soul  remained,  at  the  apex  of  the  arch,  clinched  in  the 
timeless  ecstasy,  consummated. 

And  there  was  no  time  nor  life  nor  death,  but  only  this, 
this  timeless  consummation,  where  the  thrust  from  earth  met 
the  thrust  from  earth  and  the  arch  was  locked  on  the  keystone 
of  ecstasy.  This  was  all,  this  was  everything.  Till  he  came 
to  himself  in  the  world  below.  Then  again  he  gathered  him- 
self together,  in  transit,  every  jet  of  him,  strained  and  leaped, 
leaped  clear  into  the  darkness  above,  to  the  fecundity  and  the 
unique  mystery,  to  the  touch,  the  clasp,  the  consummation, 
the  climax  of  eternity,  the  apex  of  the  arch. 

She  too  was  overcome,  but  silenced  rather  than  tuned  to 
the  place.  She  loved  it  as  a  world  not  quite  her  own,  she 
resented  his  transports  and  ecstasies.  His  passion  in  the 
cathedral  at  first  awed  her,  then  made  her  angry.  After  all, 
there  was  the  sky  outside,  and  in  here,  in  this  mysterious 
half-night,  when  his  soul  leapt  with  the  pillars  upwards,  it 
was  not  to  the  stars  and  the  crystalline  dark  space,  but  to 
meet  and  clasp  with  the  answering  impulse  of  leaping  stone, 
there  in  the  dusk  and  secrecy  of  the  roof.  The  far-off  clinch- 
ing and  mating  of  arches,  fhe  leap  and  thrust  of  the  stone, 
carrying  a  great  roof  overhead,  awed  and  silenced  her. 

But  yet  —  yet  she  remembered  that  the  open  sky  was  no 
blue  vault,  no  dark  dome  hung  with  many  twinkling  lamps, 
but  a  space  where  stars  were  wheeling  in  freedom,  with  free- 
dom above  them  always  higher. 

The  cathedral  roused  her  too.  But  she  would  never  con- 
sent to  the  knitting  of  all  the  leaping  stone  in  a  great  roof 
that  closed  her  in,  and  beyond  which  was  nothing,  nothing, 
it  was  the  ultimate  confine.  His  soul  would  have  liked  it  to 
be  so:  here,  here  is  all,  complete,  eternal:  motion,  meeting, 
ecstasy,  and  no  illusion  of  time,  of  night  and  day  passing  by, 
but  only  perfectly  proportioned  space  and  movement  clinching 


THE  CATHEDRAL  191 

and  renewing,  and  passion  surging  its  way  in  great  waves  to 
the  altar,  recurrence  of  ecstasy. 

Her  soul  too  was  carried  forward  to  the  altar,  to  the 
threshold  of  Eternity,  in  reverence  and  fear  and  joy.  But 
ever  she  hung  back  in  the  transit,  mistrusting  the  culmina- 
tion of  the  altar.  She  was  not  to  be  flung  forward  on  the 
lift  and  lift  of  passionate  flights,  to  be  cast  at  last  upon  the 
altar  steps  as  upon  the  shore  of  the  unknown.  There  was  a 
great  joy  and  a  verity  in  it.  But  even  in  the  dazed  swoon  of 
the  cathedral,  she  claimed  another  right.  The  altar  was  bar- 
ren, its  lights  gone  out.  God  burned  no  more  in  that  bush. 
It  was  dead  matter  lying  there.  She  claimed  the  right  to 
freedom  above  her,  higher  than  the  roof.  She  had  always  a 
sense  of  being  roofed  in. 

So  that  she  caught  at  little  things,  which  saved  her  from 
being  swept  forward  headlong  in  the  tide  of  passion  that  leaps 
on  into  the  Infinite  in  a  great  mass,  triumphant  and  flinging 
its  own  course.  She  wanted  to  get  out  of  this  fixed,  leaping, 
forward-travelling  movement,  to  rise  from  it  as  a  bird  rises 
with  wet,  limp  feet  from  the  sea,  to  lift  herself  as  a  bird  lift? 
its  breast  and  thrusts  its  body  from  the  pulse  and  heave  of  a 
sea  that  bears  it  forward  to  an  unwilling  conclusion,  tear  her- 
self away  like  a  bird  on  wings,  and  in  the  open  space  where 
there  is  clarity,  rise  up  above  the  fixed,  surcharged  motion,  a 
separate  speck  that  hangs  suspended,  moves  this  way  and  that, 
seeing  and  answering  before  it  sinks  again,  having  chosen  or 
found  the  direction  in  which  it  shall  be  carried  forward. 

And  it  was  as  if  she  must  grasp  at  something,  as  if  her 
wings  were  too  weak  to  lift  her  straight  off  the  heaving  mo- 
tion. So  she  caught  sight  of  the  wicked,,  odd  little  faces 
carved  in  stone,  and  she  stood  before  them  arrested. 

These  sly  little  faces  peeped  out  of  the  grand  tide  of  the 
cathedral  like  something  that  knew  better.  They  knew  quite 
well,  these  little  imps  that  retorted  on  man's  own  illusion, 
that  the  cathedral  was  not  absolute.  They  winked  and  leered, 
giving  suggestion  of  the  many  things  that  had  been  left  out 
of  the  great  concept  of  the  church.  "  However  much  there  is 
inside  here,  there's  a  good  deal  they  haven't  got  in,"  the  little 
faces  mocked. 

Apart  from  the  lift  and  spring  of  the  great  impulse  towards 
the  altar,  these  little  faces  had  separate  wills,  separate  motions, 
separate  knowledge,  which  rippled  back  in  defiance  of  the 
tide,  and  laughed  in  triumph  of  their  own  very  littleness. 


192  THE  RAINBOW 

"Oh,- look!"  cried  Anna.  "Oh,  look,  how  adorable,  the 
faces !  Look  at  her/' 

Brangwen  looked  unwillingly.  This  was  the  voice  of  the 
serpent  in  his  Eden.  She  pointed  him  to  a  plump,  sly,  ma- 
licious little  face  carved  in  stone. 

"  He  knew  her,  the  man  who  carved  her,"  said  Anna.  "  I'm 
sure  she  was  his  wife." 

"  It  isn't  a  woman  at  all,  it's  a  man,"  said  Brangwen  curtly. 

"  Do  you  think  so  ?  —  No  !  That  isn't  a  man.  That  is  no 
man's  face." 

Her  voice  sounded  rather  jeering.  He  laughed  shortly,  and 
went  on.  But  she  would  not  go  forward  with  him.  She  loi- 
tered about  the  carvings.  And  he  could  not  go  forward  with- 
out her.  He  waited  impatient  of  this  counteraction.  She 
was  spoiling  his  passionate  intercourse  with  the  cathedral. 
His  brows  began  to  gather. 

"  Oh,  this  is  good !  "  she  cried  again.  "  Here  is  the  same 
woman  —  look !  —  only  he's  made  her  cross !  Isn't  it  lovely ! 
Hasn't  he  made  her  hideous  to  a  degree  ?  "  She  laughed  with 
pleasure.  "  Didn't  he  hate  her  ?  He  must  have  been  a  nice 
man!  Look  at  her  —  isn't  it  awfully  good  —  just  like  a 
shrewish  woman.  He  must  have  enjoyed  putting  her  in  like 
that.  He  got  his  own  back  on  her,  didn't  he  ?  " 

"  It's  a  man's  face,  no  woman's  at  all  —  a  monk's  —  clean 
shaven,"  he  said. 

She  laughed  with  a  pouf !  of  laughter. 

"  You  hate  to  think  he  put  his  wife  in  your  cathedral,  don't 
you  ?  "  she  mocked,  with  a  tinkle  of  profane  laughter.  And 
she  laughed  with  malicious  triumph. 

She  had  got  free  from  the  cathedral,  she  had  even  destroyed 
the  passion  he  had.  She  was  glad.  He  was  bitterly  angry. 
Strive  as  he  would,  he  could  not  keep  the  cathedral  wonderful 
to  him.  He  was  disillusioned.  That  which  had  been  his  ab- 
solute, containing  all  heaven  and  earth,  was  become  to  him 
as  to  her,  a  shapely  heap  of  dead  matter  —  but  dead,  dead. 

His  mouth  was  full  of  ash,  his  soul  was  furious.  He  hated 
her  for  having  destroyed  another  of  his  vital  illusions.  Soon 
he  would  be  stark,  stark,  without  one  place  wherein  to  stand, 
without  one  belief  in  which  to  rest. 

Yet  somewhere  in  him  he  responded  more  deeply  to  the  sly 
little  face  that  knew  better,  than  he  had  done  before, to  the 
perfect  surge  of  his  cathedral. 

Nevertheless  for  the  time  being  his  soul  was  wretched  and 


' 


THE  CATHEDRAL  193 

homeless,  and  he  could  not  bear  to  think  of  Anna's  ousting 
him  from  his  beloved  realities.  He  wanted  his  cathedral ;  he 
wanted  to  satisfy  his  blind  passion.  And  he  could  not  any 
more.  Something  intervened. 

They  went  home  again,  both  of  them  altered.  She  had 
some  new  reverence  for  that  which  he  wanted,  he  felt  that  his 
cathedrals  would  never  again  be  to  him  as  they  had  been. 
Before,  he  had  thought  them  absolute.  But  now  he  saw  them 
crouching  under  the  sky,  with  still  the  dark,  mysterious  world 
of  reality  inside,  but  as  a  world  within  a  world,  a  sort  of 
side  show,  whereas  before  they  had  been  as  a  world  to  him 
within  a  chaos :  a  reality,  an  order,  an  absolute,  within  a  mean- 
ingless confusion. 

He  had  felt,  before,  that  could  he  but  go  through  the  great 
door  and  look  down  the  gloom  towards  the  far-off,  concluding 
wonder  of  the  altar,  that  then,  with  the  windows  suspended 
around  like  tablets  of  jewels  emanating  their  own  glory,  then 
he  had  arrived.  Here  the  satisfaction  he  had  yearned  after 
came  near,  towards  this,  the  porch  of  the  great  Unknown,  all 
reality  gathered,  and  there,  the  altar  was  the  mystic  door, 
through  which  all  and  everything  must  move  on  to  eternity. 

But  now,  somehow,  sadly  and  disillusioned,  he  realized  that 
the  doorway  was  no  doorway.  It  was  too  narrow,  it  was  false. 
Outside  the  cathedral  were  many  flying  spirits  that  could 
never  be  sifted  through  the  jewelled  gloom.  He  had  lost  his 
absolute. 

He  listened  to  the  thrushes  in  the  gardens  and  heard  a  note 
which  the  cathedrals  did  not  include:  something  free  and 
careless  and  joyous.  He  crossed  a  field  that  was  all  yellow 
with  dandelions,  on  his  way  to  work,  and  the  bath  of  yellow 
glowing  was  something  at  once  so  sumptuous  and  so  fresh,  that 
he  was  glad  he  was  away  from  his  shadowy  cathedral. 

There  was  life  outside  the  church.  There  was  much  that 
the  church  did  not  include.  He  thought  of  God,  and  of  the 
whole  blue  rotunda  of  the  day.  That  was  something  great 
and  free.  He  thought  of  the  ruins  of  the  Grecian  worship, 
and  it  seemed,  a  temple  was  never  perfectly  a  temple,  till  it 
was  ruined  and  mixed  up  with  the  winds  and  the  sky  and  the 
herbs. 

Still  he  loved  the  church.  As  a  symbol,  he  loved  it.  He 
tended  it  for  what  it  tried  to  represent,  rather  than  for  that 
which  it  did  represent.  Still  he  loved  it.  The  little  church 
across  his  garden-wall  drew  him,  he  gave  it  loving  attention. 


194  THE  RAINBOW 

But  he  went  to  take  charge  of  it,  to  preserve  it.  It  was  as  an 
old,  sacred  thing  to  him.  He  looked  after  the  stone  and  wood- 
work, mending  the  organ  and  restoring  a  piece  of  broken  carv- 
ing, repairing  the  church  furniture.  Later,  he  became  choir- 
master also. 

His  life  was  shifting  its  centre,  becoming  more  superficial. 
He  had  failed  to  become  really  articulate,  failed  to  find  real 
expression.  He  had  to  continue  in  the  old  form.  But  in 
spirit,  he  was  uncreated. 

Anna  was  absorbed  in  the  child  now,  she  left  her  husband 
to  take  his  own  way.  She  was  willing  now  to  postpone  all 
adventure  into  unknown  realities.  She  had  the  child,  her 
palpable  and  immediate  future  was  the  child.  If  her  soul 
had  found  no  utterance,  her  womb  had. 

The  church  that  neighboured  with  his  house  became  very 
intimate  and  dear  to  him.  He  cherished  it,  he  had  it  entirely 
in  his  charge.  If  he  could  find  no  new  activity,  he  would  be 
happy  cherishing  the  old,  dear  form  of  worship.  He  knew 
this  little,  whitewashed  church.  In  its  shadowy  atmosphere 
he  sank  back  into  being.  He  liked  to  sink  himself  in  its  hush 
as  a  stone  sinks  into  water. 

He  went  across  his  garden,  mounted  the  wall  by  the  little 
steps,  and  entered  the  hush  and  peace  of  the  church.  As  the 
heavy  door  clanged  to  behind  him,  his  feet  re-echoed  in  the 
aisle,  his  heart  re-echoed  with  a  little  passion  of  tenderness 
and  mystic  peace.  He  was  also  slightly  ashamed,  like  a  man 
who  has  failed,  who  lapses  back  for  his  fulfilment. 

He  loved  to  light  the  candles  at  the  organ,  and  sitting  then 
alone  in  the  little  glow,  practise  the  hymns  and  chants  foi 
the  service.  The  whitewashed  arches  retreated  into  darkness 
the  sound  of  the  organ  and  the  organ-pedals  died  away  upon 
the  unalterable  stillness  of  the  church,  there  were  faint 
ghostly  noises  in  the  tower,  and  then  the  music  swelled  ou 
again,  loudly,  triumphantly. 

He  ceased  to  fret  about  his  life.  He  relaxed  his  will,  anc 
let  everything  go.  What  was  between  him  and  his  wife  wa 
a  great  thing,  if  it  was  not  everything.  She  had  conquered 
really.  Let  him  wait,  and  abide,  wait  and  abide.  She  anc 
the  baby  and  himself,  they  were  one.  The  organ  rang  out  his 
protestation.  His  soul  lay  in  the  darkness  as  he  pressed  th( 
keys  of  the  organ. 

To  Anna,  the  baby  was  a  complete  bliss  and  fulfilment 
Her  desires  sank  into  abeyance^  her  soul  was  in  bliss  over  the 


THE  CATHEDRAL  195 

baby.  It  was  rather  a  delicate  child,  she  had  trouble  to  rear 
it.  She  never  for  a  moment  thought  it  would  die.  It  was  a 
delicate  infant,  therefore  it  behoved  her  to  make  it  strong. 
She  threw  herself  into  the  labour,  the  child  was  everything. 
Her  imagination  was  all  occupied  here.  She  was  a  mother. 
It  was  enough  to  handle  the  new  little  limbs,  the  new  little 
body,  hear  the  new  little  voice  crying  in  the  stillness.  All  the 
future  rang  to  her  out  of  the  sound  of  the  baby's  crying  and 
cooing,  she  balanced  the  coming  years  of  life  in  her  hands,  as 
she  nursed  the  child.  The  passionate  sense  of  fulfilment,  of 
the  future  germinated  in  her,  made  her  vivid  and  powerful- 
All  the  future  was  in  her  hands,  in  the  hands  of  the  woman. 
And  before  this  baby  was  ten  months  old,  she  was  again  with 
child.  She  seemed  to  be  in  the  fecund  of  storm  life,  every 
moment  was  full  and  busy  with  productiveness  to  her.  She 
felt  like  the  earth,  the  mother  of  everything. 

Brangwen  occupied  himself  with  the  church,  he  played  the 
organ,  he  trained  the  choir-boys,  he  taught  a  Sunday-school 
class  of  youths.  He  was  happy  enough.  There  was  an  eager, 
yearning  kind  of  happiness  in  him  as  he  taught  the  boys  on 
Sundays.  He  was  all  the  time  exciting  himself  with  the 
proximity  of  some  secret  that  he  had  not  yet  fathomed. 

In  the  house,  he  served  his  wife  and  the  little  matriarchy. 
She  loved  him  because  he  was  the  father  of  her  children.  And 
she  always  had  a  physical  passion  for  him.  So  he  gave  up 
trying  to  have  the  spiritual  superiority  and  control,  or  even 
her  respect  for  his  conscious  or  public  life.  He  lived  simply 
by  her  physical  love  for  him.  And  he  served  the  little  matri- 
archy, nursing  the  child  and  helping  with  the  housework,  in- 
different any  more  of  his  own  dignity  and  importance.  But 
his  abandoning  of  claims,  his  living  isolated  upon  his  own 
interest,  made  him  seem  unreal,  unimportant. 

Anna  was  not  publicly  proud  of  him.  But  very  soon  she 
learned  to  be  indifferent  to  public  life.  He  was  not  what  is 
called  a  manly  man:  he  did  not  drink  or  smoke  or  arrogate 
importance.  But  he  was  her  man,  and  his  very  indifference  to 
all  claims  of  manliness  set  her  supreme  in  her  own  world  with 
him.  Physically,  she  loved  him  and  he  satisfied  her.  He 
went  alone  and  subsidiary  always.  At  first  it  had  irritated 
her,  the  outer  world  existed  so  little  to  him.  Looking  at  him 
with  outside  eyes,  she  was  inclined  to  sneer  at  him.  But  her 
sneer  changed  to  a  sort  of  respect.  She  respected  him,  that 
he  could  serve  her  so  simply  and  completely.  Above  all,  she 


196  THE  RAINBOW 

loved  to  bear  his  children.  She  loved  to  be  the  source  of 
children. 

She  could  not  understand  him,  his  strange,  dark  rages  and 
his  devotion  to  the  church.  It  was  the  church  building  he 
cared  for;  and  yet  his  soul  was  passionate  for  something. 
He  laboured  cleaning  the  stonework,  repairing  the  woodwork, 
restoring  the  organ,  and  making  the  singing  as  perfect  as 
possible.  To  keep  the  church  fabric  and  the  church-ritual 
intact  was  his  business;  to  have  the  intimate  sacred  building 
utterly  in  his  own  hands,  and  to  make  the  form  of  service 
complete.  There  was  a  little  bright  anguish  and  tension  on 
his  face,  and  in  his  intent  movements.  He  was  like  a  lover 
who  knows  he  is  betrayed,  but  who  still  loves,  whose  love  is 
only  the  more  tense.  The  church  was  false,  but  he  served  it 
the  more  attentively. 

During  the  day,  at  his  work  in  the  office,  he  kept  himself 
suspended.  He  did  not  exist.  He  worked  automatically  till 
it  was  time  to  go  home. 

He  loved  with  a  hot  heart  the  dark-haired  little  Ursula, 
and  he  waited  for  the  child  to  come  to  consciousness.  Now 
the  mother  monopolized  the  baby.  But  his  heart  waited  in 
its  darkness.  His  hour  would  come. 

In  the  long  run,  he  learned  to  submit  to  Anna.  She  forced 
him  to  the  spirit  of  her  laws,  whilst  leaving  him  the  letter  of 
his  own.  She  combated  in  him  his  devils.  She  suffered  very 
much  from  his  inexplicable  and  incalculable  dark  rages,  when 
a  blackness  filled  him,  and  a  black  wind  seemed  to  sweep  out 
of  existence  everything  that  had  to  do  with  him.  She  could 
feel  herself,  everything,  being  annihilated  by  him. 

At  first  she  fought  him.  At  night,  in  this  state,  he  would 
kneel  down  to  say  his  prayers.  She  looked  at  his  crouching 
figure. 

"  Why  are  you  kneeling  there,  pretending  to  pray  ? "  she 
said,  harshly.  "  Do  you  think  anybody  can  pray,  when  they 
are  in  the  vile  temper  you  are  in  ?  " 

He  remained  crouching  by  the  bedside,  motionless. 

"  It's  horrible,"  she  continued,  "  and  such  a  pretence ! 
What  do  you  pretend  you  are  saying?  Who  do  you  pretend 
you  are  praying  to  ?  " 

He  still  remained  motionless,  seething  with  inchoate  rage, 
when  his  whole  nature  seemed  to  disintegrate.  He  seemed 
to  live  with  a  strain  upon  himself,  and  occasionally  came  these 
dark,  chaotic  rages,  the  lust  for  destruction.  She  then  fought 


THE  CATHEDRAL  197 

with  him,  and  their  fights  were  horrible,  murderous.  And 
then  the  passion  between  them  came  just  as  black  and  awful. 

But  little  by  little,  as  she  learned  to  love  him  better,  she 
would  put  herself  aside,  and  when  she  felt  one  of  his  fits  upon 
him,  would  ignore  him,  successfully  leave  him  in  his  world, 
whilst  she  remained  in  her  own.  He  had  a  black  struggle  with 
himself,  to  come  back  to  her.  For  at  last  he  learned  that  he 
would  be  in  hell  until  he  came  back  to  her.  So  he  struggled 
to  submit  to  her,  and  she  was  afraid  of  the  ugly  strain  in  his 
eyes.  She  made  love  to  him,  and  took  him.  Then  he  was 
grateful  to  her  love,  humble. 

He  made  himself  a  woodwork  shed,  in  which  to  restore 
things  which  were  destroyed  in  the  church.  So  he  had  plenty 
to  do :  his  wife,  his  child,  the  church,  the  woodwork,  and  his 
wage-earning,  all  occupying  him.  If  only  there  were  not  some 
limit  to  him,  some  darkness  across  his  eyes !  He  had  to  give 
in  to  it  at  last  himself.  He  must  submit  to  his  own  in- 
adequacy, the  limitation  of  his  being.  He  even  had  to  know 
of  his  own  black,  violent  temper,  and  to  reckon  with  it.  But 
as  she  was  more  gentle  with  him,  it  became  quieter. 

As  he  sat  sometimes  very  still,  with  a  bright,  vacant  face, 
Anna  could  see  the  suffering  among  the  brightness.  He  was 
aware  of  some  limit  to  himself,  of  something  unformed  in  his 
very  being,  of  some  buds  which  were  not  ripe  in  him,  some 
folded  centres  of  darkness  which  would  never  develop  and 
unfold  whilst  he  was  alive  in  the  body.  He  was  unready  for 
fulfilment.  Something  undeveloped  in  him  limited  him, 
there  was  a  darkness  in  him  which  he  could  not  unfold,  which 
would  never  unfold  in  him. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

THE   CHILD 

FROM  the  first,  the  baby  stirred  in  the  young  father 
a  deep,  strong  emotion  he  dared  scarcely  acknowledge, 
it  was  so  strong  and  came  out  of  the  dark  of  him. 
When  he  heard  the  child  cry,  a  terror  possessed  him, 
because  of  the  answering  echo  from  the  unfathomed  distances 
in  himself.     Must  he  know  in  himself  such  distances,  perilous 
and  imminent? 

He  had  the  infant  in  his  arms,  he  walked  backwards  anc 
forwards  troubled  by  the  crying  of  his  own  flesh  and  blood 
This  was  his  own  flesh  and  blood  crying !  His  soul  rose 
against  the  voice  suddenly  breaking  out  from  him,  from  the 
distances  in  him. 

Sometimes  in  the  night,  the  child  cried  and  cried,  when 
the  night  was  heavy  and  sleep  oppressed  him.  And  halj 
asleep,  he  stretched  out  his  hand  to  put  it  over  the  baby's 
face  to  stop  the  crying.  But  something  arrested  his  hand 
the  very  inhumanness  of  the  intolerable,  continuous  crying 
arrested  him.  It  was  so  impersonal,  without  cause  or  object 
Yet  he  echoed  to  it  directly,  his  soul  answered  its  madness 
It  filled  him  with  terror,  almost  with  frenzy. 

He  learned  to  acquiesce  to  this,  to  submit  to  the  awful, 
obliterated  sources  which  were  the  origin  of  his  living  tissue 
He  was  not  what  he  conceived  himself  to  be !  Then  he  was 
what  he  was,  unknown,  potent,  dark. 

He  became  accustomed  to  the  child,  he  knew  how  to  lifi 
and  balance  the  little  body.  The  baby  had  a  beautiful,  rounded 
head  that  moved  him  passionately.  He  would  have  fought  to 
the  last  drop  to  defend  that  exquisite,  perfect  round  head. 

He  learned  to  know  the  little  hands  and  feet,  the  strange 
unseeing,  golden-brown  eyes,  the  mouth  that  opened  only  to 
cry,  or  to  suck,  or  to  show  a  queer,  toothless  laugh.  He 
could  almost  understand  even  the  dangling  legs,  which  at  first 
had  created  in  him  a  feeling  of  aversion.  They  could  kick  in 
their  queer  little  way,  they  had  their  own  softness. 

198 


THE  CHILD  199 

One  evening,  suddenly,  he  saw  the  tiny,  living  thing  rolling 
naked  in  the  mother's  lap,  and  he  was  sick,  it  was  so  utterly 
helpless  and  vulnerable  and  extraneous;  in  a  world  of  hard 
surfaces  and  varying  altitudes,  it  lay  vulnerable  and  naked 
at  every  point.  Yet  it  was  quite  blithe.  And  yet,  in  its  blindy 
awful  crying,  was  there  not  the  blind,  far-off  terror  of  its  own 
vulnerable  nakedness,  the  terror  of  being  so  utterly  delivered 
over,  helpless  at  every  point.  He  could  not  bear  to  hear  it 
crying.  His  heart  strained  and  stood  on  guard  against  the, 
whole  universe. 

But  he  waited  for  the  dread  of  these  days  to  pass ;  he  saw 
the  joy  coming.  He  saw  the  lovely,  creamy,  cool  little  ear 
of  the  baby,  a  bit  of  dark  hair  rubbed  to  a  bronze  floss,  like 
bronze-dust.  And  he  waited,  for  the  child  to  become  his,  to 
look  at  him  and  answer  him. 

It  had  a  separate  being,  but  it  was  his  own  child.  His 
flesh  and  blood  vibrated  to  it.  He  caught  the  baby  to  his 
breast  with  his  passionate,  clapping  laugh.  And  the  infant 
knew  him. 

As  the  newly-opened,  newly-dawned  eyes  looked  at  him, 
he  wanted  them  to  perceive  him,  to  recognize  him.  Then  he 
was  verified.  The  child  knew  him,  a  queer  contortion  of 
laughter  came  on  its  face  for  him.  He  caught  it  to  his  breast, 
clapping  with  a  triumphant  laugh. 

The  golden-brown  eyes  of  the  child  gradually  lit  up  and 
dilated  at  the  sight  of  the  dark-glowing  face  of  the  youth. 
It  knew  its  mother  better,  it  wanted  its  mother  more.  But 
the  brightest,  sharpest  little  ecstasy  was  for  the  father. 

It  began  to  be  strong,  to  move  vigorously  and  freely,  to. 
make  sounds  like  words.  It  was  a  baby  girl  now.  Already 
it  knew  his  strong  hands,  it  exulted  in  his  strong  clasp,  it 
laughed  and  crowed  when  he  played  with  it. 

And  his  heart  grew  red-hot  with  passionate  feeling  for  the 
child.  She  was  not  much  more  than  a  year  old  when  the 
eecond  baby  was  born.  Then  he  took  Ursula  for  his  own. 
She  his  first  little  girl.  He  had  set  his  heart  on  her. 

The  second  had  dark  blue  eyes  and  a  fair  skin :  it  was  more 
a  Brangwen,  people  said.  The  hair  was  fair.  But  they 
forgot  Anna's  stiff  blond  fleece  of  childhood.  They  called 
the  newcomer  Gudrun. 

This  time,  Anna  was  stronger,  and  not  so  eager.  She  did 
not  mind  that  the  baby  was  not  a  boy.  It  was  enough  that 
she  had  milk  and  could  suckle  her  child :  Oh,  oh,  the  bliss  of 


«00  THE  RAINBOW 

the  little  life  sucking  the  milk  of  her  body!  Oh,  oh,  oh  the 
bliss,  as  the  infant  grew  stronger,  of  the  two  tiny  hands  clutch- 
ing, catching  blindly  yet  passionately  at  her  breast,  of  the  tiny 
mouth  seeking  her  in  blind,  sure,  vital  knowledge,  of  the  sud- 
den consummate  peace  as  the  little  body  sank,  the  mouth  and 
throat  sucking,  sucking,  sucking,  drinking  life  from  her  to 
make  a  new  life,  almost  sobbing  with  passionate  joy  of  receiv- 
ing its  own  existence,  the  tiny  hands  clutching  frantically  as 
the  nipple  was  drawn  back,  not  to  be  gainsaid.  This  was 
enough  for  Anna.  She  seemed  to  pass  off  into  a  kind  of  rap- 
ture of  motherhood,  her  rapture  of  motherhood  was  everything. 
So  that  the  father  had  the  elder  baby,  the  weaned  child,  the 

f  olden-brown,  wondering  vivid  eyes  of  the  little  Ursula  were 
or  him,  who  had  waited  behind  the  mother  till  the  need  was 
for  him.  The  mother  felt  a  sharp  stab  of  jealousy.  But  she 
was  still  more  absorbed  in  the  tiny  baby.  It  was  entirely  hers, 
its  need  was  direct  upon  her. 

So  Ursula  became  the  child  of  her  father's  heart.  She 
was  the  little  blossom,  he  was  the  sun.  He  was  patient,  ener- 
getic, inventive  for  her.  He  taught  her  all  the  funny  little 
things,  he  filled  her  and  roused  her  to  her  fullest  tiny  measure. 
She  answered  him  with  her  extravagant  infant's  laughter  and 
her  call  of  delight. 

Now  there  were  two  babies,  a  voman  came  in  to  do  the 
housework.  Anna  was  wholly  nurse.  Two  babies  were  not 
too  much  for  her.  But  she  hated  any  form  of  work,  now  her 
children  had  come,  except  the  charge  of  them. 

When  Ursula  toddled  about,  she  was  an  absorbed,  busy 
child,  always  amusing  herself,  needing  not  much  attention 
from  other  people.  At  evening,  towards  six  o'clock,  Anna 
very  often  went  across  the  lane  to  the  stile,  lifted  Ursula  over 
into  the  field,  with  a :  "Go  and  meet  Daddy."  Then  Brang- 
wen,  coming  up  the  steep  round  of  the  hill,  would  see  before 
him  on  the  brow  of  the  path  a  tiny,  tottering,  wind-blown  little 
mite  with  a  dark  head,  who,  as  soon  as  she  saw  him,  would 
come  running  in  tiny,  wild,  windmill  fashion,  lifting  her  arms 
up  and  down  to  him,  down  the  steep  hill.  His  heart  leapt  up, 
he  ran  his  fastest  to  her,  to  catch  her,  because  he  knew  she 
would  fall.  She  came  fluttering  on,  wildly,  with  her  little 
limbs  flying.  And  he  was  glad  when  he  caught  her  up  in  his 
arms.  Once  she  fell  as  she  came  flying  to  him,  he  saw  her 
pitch  forward  suddenly  as  she  was  running  with  her  hands 
lifted  to  him;  and  when  he  picked  her  up,  her  mouth  was 


THE  CHILD  201 

bleeding.  He  could  never  bear  to  think  of  it,  he  always  wanted 
to  cry,  even  when  he  was  an  old  man  and  she  had  become  a 
stranger  to  him.  How  he  loved  that  little  Ursula !  —  his 
heart  had  been  sharply  seared  for  her,  when  he  was  a  youth, 
first  married. 

When  she  was  a  little  older,  he  would  see  her  recklessly 
climbing  over  the  bars  of  the  stile,  in  her  red  pinafore,  swing- 
ing in  peril  and  tumbling  over,  picking  herself  up  and  flitting 
towards  him.  Sometimes  she  liked  to  ride  on  his  shoulder, 
sometimes  she  preferred  to  walk  with  his  hand,  sometimes 
she  would  fling  her  arms  round  his  legs  for  a  moment,  then 
race  free  again,  whilst  he  went  shouting  and  calling  to  her, 
a  child  along  with  her.  He  was  still  only  a  tall,  thin,  un- 
settled lad  of  twenty-two. 

It  was  he  who  had  made  her  her  cradle,  her  little  chair, 
her  little  stool,  her  high  chair.  It  was  he  who  would  swing 
her  up  to  table  or  who  would  make  for  her  a  doll  out  of  an 
old  table-leg,  whilst  she  watched  him,  saying : 

"  Make  her  eyes,  Daddy,  make  her  eyes ! " 

And  he  made  her  eyes  with  his  knife. 

She  was  very  fond  of  adorning  herself,  so  he  would  tie  a 
piece  of  cotton  round  her  ear,  and  hang  a  blue  bead  on  it 
underneath  for  an  ear-ring.  The  ear-rings  varied  with  a  red 
bead,  and  a  golden  bead,  and  a  little  pearl  bead.  And  as 
he  came  home  at  night,  seeing  her  bridling  and  looking  very 
self-conscious,  he  took  notice  and  said: 

"  So  you're  wearing  your  best  golden  and  pearl  ear-rings, 
to-day  ?" 

"  Yes." 

"  I  suppose  you've  been  to  see  the  queen  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  have." 

"  Oh,  and  what  had  she  to  say  ?  " 

"  She  said  —  she  said  — '  You  won't  dirty  your  nice  white 
frock/  * 

He  gave  her  the  nicest  bits  from  his  plate,  putting  them 
into  her  red,  moist  mouth.  And  he  would  make  on  a  piece 
of  bread-and-butter  a  bird,  out  of  jam :  which  she  ate  with 
extraordinary  relish. 

After  the  tea-things  were  washed  up,  the  woman  went  away, 
leaving  the  family  free.  Usually  Brangwen  helped  in  the 
bathing  of  the  children.  He  held  long  discussions  with  his 
child  as  she  sat  on  his  knee  and  he  unfastened  her  clothes. 
And  he  seemed  to  be  talking  really  of  momentous  things,  deep 


202  THE  RAINBOW 

moralities.  Then  suddenly  she  ceased  to  hear,  having  caught 
sight  of  a  glassie  rolled  into  a  corner.  She  slipped  away,  and 
was  in  no  hurry  to  return. 

"  Come  back  here,"  he  said,  waiting.  She  became  absorbed, 
taking  no  notice. 

"  Come  on,"  he  repeated,  with  a  touch  of  command. 

An  excited  little  chuckle  came  from  her,  but  she  pretended 
to  be  absorbed. 

"Do  you  hear,  Milady?" 

She  turned  with  a  fleeting,  exulting  laugh.  He  rushed  on 
her,  and  swept  her  up. 

"  Who  was  it  that  didn't  come !  "  he  said,  rolling  her  between 
his  strong  hands,  tickling  her.  And  she  laughed  heartily, 
heartily.  She  loved  him  that  he  compelled  her  with  his 
strength  and  decision.  He  was  all-powerful,  the  tower  of 
strength  which  rose  out  of  her  sight. 

When  the  children  were  in  bed,  sometimes  Anna  and  he 
sat  and  talked,  desultorily,  both  of  them  idle.  He  read  very 
little.  Anything  he  was  drawn  to  read  became  a  burning 
reality  to  him,  another  scene  outside  his  window.  Whereas 
Anna  skimmed  through  a  book  to  see  what  happened,  then 
she  had  enough. 

Therefore  they  would  often  sit  together,  talking  desultorily. 
What  was  really  between  them  they  could  not  utter.  Their 
words  were  only  accidents  in  the  mutual  silence.  When  they 
talked,  they  gossiped.  She  did  not  care  for  sewing. 

She  had  a  beautiful  way  of  sitting  musing,  gratefully,  as 
if  her  heart  were  lit  up.  Sometimes  she  would  turn  to  him, 
laughing,  to  tell  him  some  little  thing  that  had  happened 
during  the  day.  Then  he  would  laugh,  they  would  talk  awhile, 
before  the  vital,  physical  silence  was  between  them  again. 

She  was  thin  but  full  of  colour  and  life.  She  was  per- 
fectly happy  to  do  just  nothing,  only  to  sit  with  a  curious, 
languid  dignity,  so  careless  as  to  be  almost  regal,  so  utterly 
indifferent,  so  confident.  The  bond  between  them  was  unde- 
fina-ble,  but  very  strong.  It  kept  every  one. else  at  a  distance. 

His  face  never  changed  whilst  she  knew  him,  it  only  became 
more  intense.  It  was  ruddy  and  dark  in  its  abstraction,  not 
very  human,  it  had  a  strong,  intent  brightness.  Sometimes, 
when  his  eyes  met  hers,  a  yellow  flash  from  them  caused  a 
darkness  to  swoon  over  her  consciousness,  electric,  and  a  slight 
strange  laugh  came  on  his  face.  Her  eyes  would  turn  lan- 
guidly, then  close,  as  if  hypnotized.  And  they  lapsed  into  the 


THE  CHILD  203 

same  potent  darkness.  He  had  the  quality  of  a  young  black 
cat,  intent,  unnoticeable,  and  yet  his  presence  gradually  made 
itself  felt,  stealthily  and  powerfully  took  hold  of  her.  He 
called,  not  to  her,  but  to  something  in  her,  which  responded 
subtly,  out  of  her  unconscious  darkness. 

So  they  were  together  in  a  darkness,  passionate,  electric, 
forever  haunting  the  back  of  the  common  day,  never  in  the 
light.  In  the  light,  he  seemed  to  sleep,  unknowing.  Only 
she  knew  him  when  the  darkness  set  him  free,  and  he  could 
see  with  his  gold-glowing  eyes  his  intention  and  his  desires 
in  the  dark.  Then  she  was  in  a  spell,  then  she  answered  his 
harsh,  penetrating  call  with  a  soft  leap  of  her  soul,  the  darkness 
woke  up,  electric,  bristling  with  an  unknown,  overwhelming 
insinuation. 

By  now  they  knew  each  other;  she  was  the  daytime,  the 
daylight,  he  was  the  shadow,  put  aside,  but  in  the  darkness 
potent  with  an  overwhelming  voluptuousness. 

She  learned  not  to  dread  and  to  hate  him,  but  to  fill  her- 
self with  him,  to  give  herself  to  his  black,  sensual  power,  that 
was  hidden  all  the  daytime.  And  the  curious  rolling  of  the 
eyes,  as  if  she  were  lapsing  in  a  trance  away  from  her  ordinary 
consciousness  became  habitual  with  her,  when  something 
threatened  and  opposed  her  in  life,  the  conscious  life. 

So  they  remained  as  separate  in  the  light,  and  in  the  thick 
darkness,  married.  He  supported  her  daytime  authority,  kept 
it  inviolable  at  last.  And  she,  in  all  the  darkness,  belonged 
to  him,  to  his  close,  insinuating,  hypnotic  familiarity. 

All  his  daytime  activity,  all  his  public  life,  was  a  kind  of 
sleep.  She  wanted  to  be  free,  to  belong  to  the  day.  And 
he  ran  avoiding  the  day  in  work.  After  tea,  he  went  to  the 
shed  to  his  carpentry  or  his  wood-carving.  He  was  restoring 
the  patched,  degraded  pulpit  to  its  original  form. 

But  he  loved  to  have  the  child  near  him,  playing  by  his 
feet.  She  was  a  piece  of  light  that  really  belonged  to  him, 
that  played  within  his  darkness.  He  left  the  shed  door  on 
the  latch.  And  when,  with  his  second  sense  of  another  pres- 
ence, he.  knew  she  was  coming,  he  was  satisfied,  he  was  at  rest. 
When  he  was  alone  with  her,  he  did  not  want  to  take  notice,  to 
talk.  He  wanted  to  live  unthinking,  with  her  presence  flicker- 
ing upon  him. 

He  always  went  in  silence.  The  child  would  push  open 
the  shed  door,  and  see  him  working  by  lamplight,  his  sleeves 
rolled  back.  His  clothes  hung  about  him,  carelessly,  like 
mere  wrapping.  Ir^ide,  his  body  was  concentrated  with  a 


S04  THE  RAINBOW 

flexiblet  charged  power  all  of  its  own,  isolated.  From  when 
she  was  a  tiny  child  Ursula  could  remember  his  forearm,  with 
its  fine  black  hairs  and  its  electric  flexibility,  working  at  the 
bench  through  swift,  unnoticeable  movements,  always  am- 
bushed in  a  sort  of  silence. 

She  hung  a  moment  in  the  door  of  the  shed,  waiting  for 
him  to  notice  her.  He  turned,  his  black,  curved  eyebrows 
arching  slightly. 

"  Hullo,  Twittermiss !  " 

And  he  closed  the  door  behind  her.  Then  the  child  was 
happy  in  the  shed  that  smelled  of  sweet  wood  and  resounded 
to  the  noise  of  the  plane  or  the  hammer  or  the  saw,  yet  was 
charged  with  the  silence  of  the  worker.  She  played  on,  intent 
and  absorbed,  among  the  shavings  and  the  little  nogs  of  wood. 
She  never  touched  him  :  his  feet  and  legs  were  near,  she  did  not 
approach  them. 

She  liked  to  flit  out, after  him  when  he  was  going  to  church 
at  night.  If  he  were  going  to  be  alone,  he  swung  her  over 
the  wall,  and  let  her  come. 

Again  she  was  transported  when  the  door  was  shut  behind 
them,  and  they  two  inherited  the  big,  pale,  void  place.  She 
would  watch  him  as  he  lit  the  organ  candles,  wait  whilst  he 
began  his  practising  his  tunes,  then  she  ran  foraging  here  and 
there,  like  a  kitten  playing  by  herself  in  the  darkness  with  eyes 
dilated.  The  ropes  hung  vaguely,  twining  on  the  floor,  from 
the  bells  in  the  tower,  and  Ursula  always  wanted  the  fluffy, 
red-and- white,  or  blue-and-white  rope-grips.  But  they  were 
above  her. 

Sometimes  her  mother  came  to  claim  her.  Then  the  child 
was  seized  with  resentment.  She  passionately  resented  her 
mother's  superficial  authority.  She  wanted  to  assert  her  own 
detachment. 

He,  however,  also  gave  her  occasional  cruel  shocks.  He 
let  her  play  about  in  the  church,  she  rifled  foot-stools  and 
hymn-books  and  cushions,  like  a  bee  among  flowers,  whilst 
the  organ  echoed  away.  This  continued  for  some  weeks. 
Then  the  charwoman  worked  herself  up  into  a'  frenzy  of  rage, 
to  dare  to  attack  Brangwen,  and  one  day  descended  on  him 
like  a  harpy.  He  wilted  away,  and  wanted  to  break  the  old 
beast's  neck. 

Instead  he  came  glowering  in  fury  to  the  house,  and  turned 
on  Ursula. 


THE  CHILD  205 

"Why,  you  tiresome  little  monkey,  can't  you  even  come 
to  church  without  pulling  the  place  to  bits  ?  " 

His  voice  was  harsh  and  cat-like,  he  was  blind  to  the  child. 
She  shrank  away  in  childish  anguish  and  dread.  What  was 
it,  what  awful  thing  was  it  ? 

The  mother  turned  with  her  calm.,  almost  superb  manner. 

"  What  has  she  done,  then  ?  " 

"  Done  ?  She  shall  go  in  the  church  no  more,  pulling  and 
littering  and  destroying." 

The  wife  slowly  rolled  her  eyes  and  lowered  her  eyelids. 

"  What  has  she  destroyed,  then  ?  " 

He  did  not  know. 

"  I've  just  had  Mrs.  Wilkinson  at  me,"  he  cried,  "  with  a 
list  of  things  she's  done." 

Ursula  withered  under  the  contempt  and  anger  of  the  "  she,?> 
as  he  spoke  of  her. 

"  Send  Mrs.  Wilkinson  here  to  me  with  a  list  of  the  things? 
she's  done,"  said  Anna.  "  I  am  the  one  to  hear  that. 

"It's  not  the  things  the  child  has  done,"  continued  the 
mother,  "  that  have  put  you  out  so  much,  it's  because  you  can't 
bear  being  spoken  to  by  that  old  woman.  But  you  haven't  the 
courage  to  turn  on  her  when  she  attacks  you,  you  bring  your 
rage  here." 

He  relapsed  into  silence.  Ursula  knew  that  he  was  wrong. 
In  the  outside,  upper  world,  he  was  wrong.  Already  came 
over  the  child  the  cold  sense  of  the  impersonal  world.  There 
she  knew  her  mother  was  right.  But  still  her  heart  clamoured 
after  her  father,  for  him  to  be  right,  in  his  dark,  sensuous 
underworld.  But  he  was  angry,  and  went  his  way  in  black- 
ness and  brutal  silence  again. 

The  child  ran  about  absorbed  in  life,  quiet,  full  of  amuse- 
ment. She  did  not  notice  things,  nor  changes  nor  alterations. 
One  day  she  would  find  daisies  in  the  grass,  another  day, 
apple-blossoms  would  be  sprinkled  white  on  the  ground,  and 
she  would  run  among  it,  for  pleasure  because  it  was  there. 
Yet  again  birds  would  be  pecking  at  the  cherries,  her  father 
would  throw  cherries  down  from  the  tree  all  round  her  on  the 
garden.  Then  the  fields  were  full  of  hay. 

She  did  not  remember  what  had  been  nor  what  would  be, 
the  outside  things  were  there  each  day.  She  was  always  her- 
self, the  world  outside  was  accidental.  Even  her  mother  was 
accidental  to  her :  a  condition  that  happened  to  endure. 


,206  THE  RAINBOW 

,  Only  her  father  occupied  any  permanent  position  in  the 
childish  consciousness.  When  he  came  back  she  remembered 
vaguely  how  he  had  gone  away,  when  he  went  away  she  knew 
vaguely  that  she  must  wait  for  his  coming  back.  Whereas 
her  mother,  returning  from  an  outing,  merely  became  present, 
there  was  no  reason  for  connecting  her  with  some  previous 
departure. 

The  return  or  the  departure  of  the  father  was  the  one  event 
which  the  child  remembered.  When  he  came,  something  woke 
up  in  her,  some  yearning.  She  knew  when  he  was  out  of  joint 
or  irritable  or  tired :  then  she  was  uneasy,  she  could  not  rest. 

When  he  was  in  the  house,  the  child  felt  full  and  warm, 
rich  like  a  creature  in  the  sunshine.  When  he  was  gone,  she 
was  vague,  forgetful.  When  he  scolded  her  even,  she  was  often 
more  aware  of  him  than  of  herself.  He  was  her  strength  and 
her  greater  self. 

Ursula  was  three  years  old  when  another  baby  girl  was  born. 
Then  the  two  small  sisters  were  much  together,  Gudrun  and 
Ursula.  Gudrun  was  a  quiet  child  who  played  for  hours  alone, 
absorbed  in  her  fancies.  She  was  brown-haired,  fair-skinned, 
strangely  placid,  almost  passive.  Yet  her  will  was  indomita- 
ble, once  set.  From  the  first  she  followed  Ursula's  lead.  Yet 
she  was  a  thing  to  herself,  so  that  to  watch  the  two  together 
was  strange.  They  were  like  two  young  animals  playing  to- 
gether but  not  taking  real  notice  of  each  other.  Gudrun  was 
the  mother's  favourite  —  except  that  Anna  always  lived  in  her 
latest  baby. 

The  burden  of  so  many  lives  depending  on  him  wore  the 
youth  down.  He  had  his  work  in  the  office,  which  was  done 
purely  by  effort  of  will:  he  had  his  barren  passion  for  the 
church;  he  had  three  young  children.  Also  at  this  time  his 
health  was  not  good.  So  he  was  haggard  and  irritable,  often 
a  pest  in  the  house.  Then  he  was  told  to  go  to  his  wood-work, 
or  to  the  church. 

Between  him  and  the  little  Ursula  there  came  into  being 
a  strange  alliance.  They  were  aware  of  each  other.  He  knew 
the  child  was  always  on  his  side.  But  in  his  consciousness  he 
counted  it  for  nothing.  She  was  always,  for  him.  He  took  it 
for  granted.  Yet  his  life  was  based  on  her,  even  whilst  she 
was  a  tiny  child,  on  her  support  and  her  accord. 

Anna  continued  in  her  violent  trance  of  motherhood,  alwa] 
busy,  often  harassed,  but  always  contained  in  her  trance  oi 
motherhood.     She  seemed  to  exist  in  her  own  violent  fruit- 


THE  CHILD  207 

fulness,  and  it  was  as  if  the  sun  shone  tropically  on  her.  Her 
colour  was  bright,  her  eyes  full  of  a  fecund  gloom,  her  brown 
hair  tumbled  loosely  over  her  ears.  She  had  a  look  of  rich' 
ness.  No  responsibility,  no  sense  of  duty  troubled  her.  The 
outside,  public  life  was  less  than  nothing  to  her,  really. 

Whereas  when,  at  twenty-six,  he  found  himself  father  of 
four  children,  with  a  wife  who  lived  intrinsically  like  the 
ruddiest  lilies  of  the  field,  he  let  the  weight  of  responsibility 
press  on  him  and  drag  him.  It  was  then  that  his  child  Ursula 
strove  to  be  with  him.  She  was  with  him,  even  as  a  baby  of 
four,  when  he  was  irritable  and  shouted  and  made  the  house- 
hold unhappy.  She  suffered  from  his  shouting,  but  somehow 
it  was  not  really  him.  She  wanted  it  to  be  over,  she  wanted 
to  resume  her  normal  connection  with  him.  When  he  was  dis- 
agreeable, the  child  echoed  to  the  crying  of  some  need  in  him, 
and^she  responded  blindly.  Her  heart  followed  him  as  if  he 
had  some  tie  with  her,  and  some  love  which  he  could  not 
deliver.  Her  heart  followed  him  persistently,  in  its  love. 

But  there  was  the  dim,  childish  sense  of  her  own  smallness 
and  inadequacy,  a  fatal  sense  of  worthlessness.  She  could  not 
do  anything,  she  was  not  enough.  She  could  not  be  important 
to  him.  This  knowledge  deadened  her  from  the  first. 

Still  she  set  towards  him  like  a  quivering  needle.  All  her 
life  was  directed  by  her  awareness  of  him,  her  wakefulness 
to  his  being.  And  she  was  against  her  mother. 

Her  father  was  the  dawn  wherein  her  consciousness  woke 
up.  But  for  him,  she  might  have  gone  on  like  the  other 
children,  Gudrun  and  Theresa  and  Catherine,  one  with  the 
flowers  and  insects  and  playthings,  having  no  existence  apart 
from  the  concrete  object  of  her  attention.  But  her  father 
came  too  near  to  her.  The  clasp  of  his  hands  and  the  power 
of  his  breast  woke  her  up  almost  in  pain  from  the  transient 
unconsciousness  of  childhood.  Wide-eyed,  unseeing,  she  was 
awake  before  she  knew  how  to  see.  She  was  wakened  too  soon. 
Too  soon  the  call  had  come  to  her,  when  she  was  a  small  baby, 
and  her  father  held  her  close  to  his  breast,  her  sleep-living 
heart  was  beaten  into  wabefulness  by  the  striving  of  his  bigger 
heart,  by  his  clasping  her  to  his  body  for  love  and  for  fulfil- 
ment, asking  as  a  magnet  must  always  ask.  From  her  the 
response  had  struggled  dimly,  vaguely  into  being. 

The  children  were  dressed  roughly  for  the  country.  When 
she  was  little,  Ursula  pattered  about  in  little  wooden  clogs,  a 
blue  overall  over  her  thick  red  dress,  a  red  shawl  crossed  on 


808  THE  RAINBOW 

her  breast  and  tied  behind  again.  So  she  ran  with  her  father 
to  the  garden. 

The  household  rose  early.  He  was  out  digging  by  six 
o'clock  in  the  morning,  he  went  to  his  work  at  half-past  eight. 
And  Ursula  was  usually  in  the  garden  with  him,  though  not 
near  at  hand. 

At  Eastertime  one  year,  she  helped  him  to  set  potatoes. 
It  was  the  first  time  she  had  ever  helped  him.  The  occasion 
remained  as  a  picture,  one  of  her  earliest  memories.  They 
had  gone  out  soon  after  dawn.  A  cold  wind  was  blowing. 
He  had  his  old  trousers  tucked  into  his  boots,  he  wore  no 
coat  nor  waistcoat,  his  shirt-sleeves  fluttered  in  the  wind,  his 
face  was  ruddy  and  intent,  in  a  kind  of  sleep.  "When  he  was 
at  work  he  neither  heard  nor  saw.  A  long,  thin  man,  looking 
still  a  youth,  with  a  line  of  black  moustache  above  his  thick 
mouth,  and  his  fine  hair  blown  on  his  forehead,  he  worked 
away  at  the  earth  in  the  grey  first  light,  alone.  His  solitari- 
ness drew  the  child  like  a  spell. 

The  wind  came  chill  over  the  dark-green  fields.  Ursula 
ran  up  and  watched  him  push  the  setting-peg  in  at  one  side 
of  his  ready  earth,  stride  across,  and  push  it  in  the  other 
side,  pulling  the  line  taut  and  clear  upon  the  clods  interven- 
ing. Then  with  a  sharp  cutting  noise  the  bright  spade  came 
towards  her,  cutting  a  grip  into  the  new,  soft  earth. 

He  struck  his  spade  upright  and  straightened  himself. 

"  Do  you  want  to  help  me  ?  "  he  said. 

She  looked  up  at  him  from  out  of  her  little  woollen  bonnet. 

"  Ay,"  he  said,  "  jou  can  put  some  taters  in  for  me.  Look 
—  like  that  —  these  little  sprits  standing  up  —  so  much  apart, 
you  see." 

And  stooping  down  he  quickly,  surely  placed  the  spritted 
potatoes  in  the  soft  grip,  where  they  rested  separate  and 
pathetic  on  the  heavy  cold  earth. 

He  gave  her  a  little  basket  of  potatoes,  and  strode  himself 
to  the  other  end  of  the  line.  She  saw  him  stooping,  working 
towards  her.  She  was  excited,  and  unused.  She  put  in  one 
potato,  then  rearranged  it,  to  make  it  sit  nicely.  Some  of 
the  sprits  were  broken,  and  she  was  afraid.  The  responsi- 
bility excited  her  like  a  string  tying  her  up.  She  could  not 
help  looking  with  dread  at  the  string  buried  under  the  heaped- 
back  soil.  Her  father  was  working  nearer,  stooping,  working 
nearer.  She  was  ovei*come  by  her  responsibility.  She  put 
potatoes  quickly  into  the  cold  earth. 


THE  CHILD  209 

He  came  near. 

"  Not  so  close/'  he  said,  stooping  over  her  potatoes,  taking 
some  out  and  rearranging  the  others.  She  stood  by  with  the 
painful  terrified  helplessness  of  childhood.  He  was  so  unsee- 
ing and  confident,  she  wanted  to  do  the  thing  and  yet  she  could 
not.  She  stood  by  looking  on,  her  little  blue  overall  -fluttering 
in  the  wind,  the  red  woollen  ends  of  her  shawl  blowing  gustily. 
Then  he  went  down  the  row,  relentlessly,  turning  the  potatoes 
in  with  his  sharp  spade-cuts.  He  took  no  notice  of  her,  only 
worked  on.  He  had  another  world  from  hers. 

She  stood  helplessly  stranded  on  his  world.  He  continued 
his  work.  She  knew  she  could  not  help  him.  A  little  bit 
forlorn,  at  last  she  turned  away,  and  ran  down  the  garden, 
away  from  him,  as  fast  as  she  could  go  away  from  him,  to 
forget  him  and  his  work. 

He  missed  her  presence,  her  face  in  her  red  woollen  bonnet, 
her  blue  overall  fluttering.  She  ran  to  where  a  little  water 
ran  trickling  between  grass  and  stones.  That  she  loved. 

When  he  came  by  he  said  to  her : 

"  You  didn't  help  me  much." 

The  child  looked  at  him  dumbly.  Already  her  heart  was 
heavy  because  of  her  own  disappointment.  Her  mouth  was 
dumb  and  pathetic.  But  he  did  not  notice,  he  went  his  way. 

And  she  played  on,  because  of  her  disappointment  persisting 
even  the  more  in  her  play.  She  dreaded  work,  because  she 
could  not  do  it  as  he  did  it.  She  was  conscious  of  the  great 
breach  between  them.  She  knew  she  had  no  power.  The 
grown-up  power  to  work  deliberately  was  a  mystery  to  her. 

He  would  smash  into  her  sensitive  child's  world  destruc- 
tively. Her  mother  was  lenient,  careless.  The  children 
played  about  as  they  would  all  day.  Ursula  was  thoughtless 
—  why  should  she  remember  things  ?  If  across  the  garden 
she  saw  the  hedge  had  budded,  and  if  she  wanted  these  greeny- 
pink,  tiny  buds  for  bread-and-cheese,  to  play  at  tea-party  with, 
over  she  went  for  them. 

Then  suddenly,  perhaps  the  next  day,  her  soul  would  almost 
start  out  of  her  body  as  her  father  turned  on  her,  shouting: 

"Who's  been  tramplin'  an'  dancin'  across  where  I've  just 
sowed  seed?  I  know  it's  you,  nuisance!  Can  you  find  no- 
where else  to  walk,  but  just  over  my  seed  beds  ?  But  it's  like 
you,  that  is  —  no  heed  but  to  follow  your  own  greedy  nose/'' 

It  had  shocked  him  in  his  intent  world  to  see  the  zig-zagging 
lines  of  deep  little  foot-prints  across  his  work.  The  child 


210  THE  RAINBOW 

i 

was  infinitely  more  shocked.  Her  vulnerable  little  soul  was 
flayed  and  trampled.  Why  were  the  foot-prints  there?  She 
had  not  wanted  to  make  them.  She  stood  dazzled  with  pain 
and  shame  and  unreality. 

Her  soul,  her  consciousness  seemed  to  die  away.  She  be- 
came shut  off  and  senseless,  a  little  fixed  creature  whose  soul 
had  gone  hard  and  unresponsive.  The  sense  of  her  own  un- 
reality hardened  her  like  a  frost.  She  cared  no  longer. 

,  And  the  sight  of  her  face,  shut  and  superior  with  self-assert- 
ing indifference,  made  a  flame  of  rage  go  over  him.  He 
wanted  to  break  her. 

"  I'll  break  your  obstinate  little  face/'  he  said,  through  shut 
teeth,  lifting  his  hand. 

The  child  did  not  alter  in  the  least.  The  look  of  indiffer- 
ence, complete  glancing  indifference,  as  if  nothing  but  herself 
existed  to  her,  remained  fixed. 

Yet  far  away  in  her,  the  sobs  were  tearing  her  soul.  And 
when  he  had  gone,  she  would  go  and  creep  under  the  parlour 
sofa,  and  lie  clinched  in  the  silent,  hidden  misery  of  child- 
hood. 

When  she  crawled  out,  after  an  hour  or  so,  she  went  rather 
stiffly  to  play.  She  willed  to  forget.  She  cut  off  her  childish 
soul  from  memory,  so  that  the  pain,  and  the  insult  should 
not  be  real.  She  asserted  nerself  only.  There  was  now  noth- 
ing in  the  world  but  her  own  self.  So  very  soon,  she  came 
to  believe  in  the  outward  malevolence  that  was  against  her. 
And  very  early,  she  learned  that  even  her  adored  father  was 
part  of  this  malevolence.  And  very  early  she  learned  to  harden 
her  soul  in  resistance  and  denial  of  all  that  was  outside  her, 
harden  herself  upon  her  own  being. 

She  never  felt  sorry  for  what  she  had  done,  she  never  for- 
gave those  who  had  made  her  guilty.  If  he  had  said  to  her, 
"  Why,  Ursula,  did  you  trample  my  carefully-made  bed  ? " 
that  would  have  hurt  her  to  the  quick,  and  she  would  have 
done  anything  for  him.  But  she  was  always  tormented  by 
the  unreality  of  .outside  things,  The  earth  was  to  walk  on. 
Why  must  she  avoid  a  certair  patch,  just  because  it  was 
called  a  seed-bed  ?  It  was"  the  earth  to  walk  on.  This  was 
her  instinctive  assumption.  And  when  he  bullied  her,  she 
became  hard,  cut  herself  off  from  all  connection,  lived  in  the 
little  separate  world  of  her  own  violent  will. 

As  she  grew  older,  five,  six,  seven,  the  connection  between 
her  and  her  father  was  even  stronger.  Yet  it  was  alwa}rs 


THE  CHILD  211 

straining  to  break.  She  was  always  relapsing  on  her  own 
violent  will  into  her  awn  separate  world  of  herself.  This 
made  him  grind  his  teeth  with  bitterness,  for  he  still  wanted 
her.  But  she  could  harden  herself  into  her  own  self's  universe, 
impregnable. 

He  was  very  fond  of  swimming,  and  in  warm  weather  would 
take  her  down  to  the  canal,  to  a  silent  place,  or  to  a  big  pond 
or  reservoir,  to  bathe.  He  would  take  her  on  his  back  as  he 
went  swimming,  and  she  clung  close,  feeling  his  strong  move- 
ment under  her,  so  strong,  as  if  it  would  uphold  all  the  world. 
Then  he  taught  her  to  swim. 

She  was  a  fearless  little  thing,  when  he  dared  her.  And 
he  had  a  curious  craving  to  frighten  her,  to  see  what  she 
would  do  with  him.  He  said,  would  she  ride  on  his  back 
whilst  he  jumped  off  the  canal  bridge  down  into  the  water 
beneath. 

She  would.  He  loved  to  feel  the  naked  child  clinging  on 
to  his  shoulders.  There  was  a  curious  fight  between  their 
two  wills.  He  mounted  the  parapet  of  the  canal  bridge. 
The  water  was  a  long  way  down.  But  the  child  had  a  de- 
liberate will  set  upon  his.  She  held  herself  fixed  to  him. 

He  leapt,  and  down  they  went.  The  crash  of  the  water 
as  they  went  under  struck  through  the  child's  small  body, 
with  a  sort  of  unconsciousness.  But  she  remained  fixed. 
And  when  they  came  up  again,  and  when  they  went  to  the 
bank,  and  when  they  sat  on  the  grass  side  by  side,  he  laughed, 
and  said  it  was  fine.  And  the  dark-dilated  eyes  of  the  child 
looked  at  him  wonderingly,  darkly,  wondering  from  the  shock, 
yet  reserved  and  unfathomable,  so  he  laughed  almost  with  a  sob. 

In  a  moment  she  was  clinging  safely  on  his  back  again, 
and  he  was  swimming  in  deep  water.  She  was  used  to  his 
nakedness,  and  to  her  mother's  nakedness,  ever  since  she 
was  born.  They  were  clinging  to  each  other,  and  making 
up  to  each  other  for  the  strange  blow  that  had  been  struck 
at  them.  Yet  still,  on  other  days,  he  would  leap  again  with 
her  from  the  bridge,  daringly,  almost  wickedly.  Till  at  length, 
as  he  leapt,  once,  she  dropped  forward  on  to  his  head,  and 
nearly  broke  his  neck,  so  that  they  fell  into  the  water  in  a 
heap,  and  fought  for  a  few  moments  with  death.  He  saved 
her,  and  sat  on  the  bank,  quivering.  But  his  eyes  were  full 
of  the  blackness  of  death,  it  was  as  if  death  had  cut  between 
their  two  lives,  and  separated  them. 

Still   they   were   not    separate.     There   was   this    curious 


212  THE  RAINBOW 

taunting  intimacy  between  them.  When  the  fair  came,  shi 
wanted  to  go  in  the  swingboats^  He  took  her,  and,  standing 
up  in  the  boat,  holding  on  to  the  irons,  began  to  drive  higher, 
perilously  higher.  The  child  clung  fast  on  her  seat. 

"  Do  you  want  to  go  any  higher  ? "  he  said  to  her,  and 
she  laughed  with  her  mouth,  her  eyes  wide  and  dilated. 
They  were  rushing  through  the  air. 

"Yes,"  she  said,  feeling  as  if  she  would  turn  into  vapour, 
lose  hold  of  everything,  and  melt  away.  The  boat  swung 
far  up,  then  down  like  a  stone,  only  to  be  caught  sickeningly 
up  again. 

"  Any  higher  ?  "  he  called,  looking  at  her  over  his  shoulder, 
his  face  evil  and  beautiful  to  her. 

She  laughed  with  white  lips. 

He  sent  the  swingboat  sweeping  through  the  air  in  a  great 
semicircle,  till  it  jerked  and  swa'yed  at  the  high  horizontal. 
The  child  clung  on,  pale,  her  eyes  fixed  on  him.  People 
below  were  calling.  The  jerk  at  the  top  had  almost  shaken 
them  both  out.  He  had  done  what  he  could  —  and  he  was 
attracting  censure.  He  sat  down,  and  let  the  swingboat  swing 
itself  out. 

People  in  the  crowd  cried  shame  on  him  as  he  came  out 
of  the  swingboat.  He  laughed.  The  child  clung  to  his 
hand,  pale  and  mute.  In  a  while  she  was  violently  sick. 
He  gave  her  lemonade,  and  she  gulped  a  little. 

"  Don't  tell  your  mother  you've  been  sick,"  he  said.  There 
was  no  need  to  ask  that.  When  she  got  home,  the  child  crept 
away  under  the  parlour  sofa,  like  a  sick  little  animal,  and  was 
u  long  time  before  she  crawled  out. 

But  Anna  got  to  know  of  this  escapade,  and  was  passionately 
angry  and  contemptuous  of  him.  His  golden-brown  eyes  glit- 
tered, he  had  a  strange,  cruel  little  smile.  And  as  the  child 
watched  him,  for  the  first  time  in  her  life  a  disillusion  came 
over  her,  something  cold  and  isolating.  She  went  over  to  her 
mother.  Her  soul  was  dead  towards  him.  It  made  her  sick. 

Still  she  forgot  and  continued  to  love  him,  but  ever  more 
coldly.  He  was  at  this  time,  when  he  was  about  twenty-eight 
years  old,  strange  and  violent  in  his  being,  sensual.  He  ac- 
quired some  power  over  Anna,  over  everybody  he  came  into 
contact  with. 

After  a  long  bout  of  hostility,  Anna  at  last  closed  with 
him.  She  had  now  four  children,  all  girls.  For  seven  years 


THE  CHILD  213 

she  had  been  absorbed  in  wifehood  and  motherhood.  For 
years  he  had  gone  on  beside  her,  never  really  encroaching 
upon  her.  Then  gradually  another  self  seemed  to  assert  its 
being  within  him.  He  was  still  silent  and  separate.  But  she 
could  feel  him  all  the  while  coming  near  upon  her,  as  if  his 
breast  and  his  body  were  threatening  her,  and  he  was  always 
coming  closer.  Gradually  he  became  indifferent  of  responsi- 
bility. He  would  do  what  pleased  him,  and  no  more. 

He  began  to  go  away  from  home.  He  went  to  Nottingham 
on  Saturdays,  always  alone,  to  the  football  match  and  to  the 
music-hall,  and  all  the  time  he  was  watching,  in  readiness. 
He  never  cared  to  drink.  But  with  his  hard,  golden-brown 
eyes,  so  keen  seeing  with  their  tiny  black  pupils,  he  watched  all 
the  people,  everything  that  happened,  and  he  waited. 

In  the  Empire  one  evening  he  sat  next  to  two  girls.  He 
was  aware  of  the  one  beside  him.  She  was  rather  small, 
common,  with  a  fresh  complexion  and  an  upper  lip  that  lifted 
from  her  teeth,  so  that,  when  she  was  not  conscious,  her  mouth 
was  slightly  open  and  her  lips  pressed  outwards  in  a  kind  of 
blind  appeal.  She  was  strongly  aware  of  the  man  next  to  her, 
so  that  all  her  body  was  still,  very  still.  Her  face  watched  the 
stage.  Her  arms  went  down  into  her  lap,  very  self-conscious 
and  still. 

A  gleam  lit  up  in  him :  should  he  begin  with  her  ?  Should 
he  begin  with  her  to  live  the  other,  the  unadmitted  life  of  his 
desire?  Why  not?  He  had  always  been  so  good.  Save  for 
his  wife,  he  was  virgin.  And  why,  when  all  women  were 
different  ?  Why,  when  he  would  only  live  once  ?  He  wanted, 
the  other  life.  His  own  life  was  barren,  not  enough.  He 
wanted  the  other. 

Her  open  mouth,  showing  the  small,  irregular,  white  teethr 
appealed  to  him.  It  was  open  and  ready.  It  was  so  vulner- 
able. Why  should  he  not  go  in  and  enjoy  what  was  there? 
The  slim  arm  that  went  down  so  still  and  motionless  to  the 
lap,  it  was  pretty.  She  would  be  small,  he  would  be  able 
almost  to  hold  her  in  his  two  hands.  She  would  be  small,  al- 
most like  a  child,  and  pretty.  Her  childishness  whetted  bin 
keenly.  She  would  be  helpless  between  his  hands. 

"  That  was  the  best  turn  we've  had,"  he  said  to  her,  leaning 
over  as  he  clapped  his  hands.  He  felt  strong  and  unshakeable 
in  himself,  set  over  against  all  the  world.  His  soul  was  keen 
and  watchful,  glittering  with  a  kind  of  amusement.  He  w°a 


214  THE  RAINBOW 

perfectly  self-contained.  He  was  himself,  the  absolute,  the 
rest  of  the  world  was  the  object  that  should  contribute  to  his 
being. 

The  girl  started,  turned  round,  her  eyes  lit  up  with  an 
almost  painful  flash  of  a  smile,  the  colour  came  deeply  in  her 
cheeks. 

"Yes,  it  was,"  she  said,  quite  meaninglessly,  and  she 
covered  her  rather  prominent  teeth  with  her  lips.  Then  she 
sat  looking  straight  before  her,  seeing  nothing,  only  conscious 
of  the  colour  burning  in  her  cheeks. 

It  pricked  him  with  a  pleasant  sensation.  His  veins  and 
his  nerves  attended  to  her,  she  was  so  young  and  palpitating. 

"  It's  not  such  a  good  programme  as  last  week's,"  he  said. 

Again  she  half  turned  her  face  to  him,  and  her  clear,  bright 
eyes,  bright  like  shallow  water,  filled  with  light,  frightened, 
yet  involuntarily  lighting  and  shaking  with  response. 

"  Oh,  isn't  it !     I  wasn't  able  to  come  last  week." 

He  noted  the  common  accent.  It  pleased  him.  He  knew 
what  class  she  came  of.  Probably  she  was  a  warehouse-lass.- 
He  was  glad  she  was  a  common  girl. 

He  proceeded  to  tell  her  about  the  last  week's  programme. 
She  answered  at  random,  very  confusedly.  The  colour  burned 
in  her  cheek.  Yet  she  always  answered  him.  The  girl  on  the 
other  side  sat  remotely,  obviously  silent.  He  ignored  her. 
All  his  address  was  for  his  own  girl,  with  her  bright,  shallow 
eyes  and  her  vulnerably  opened  mouth. 

The  talk  went  on,  meaningless  and  random  on  her  part, 
quite  deliberate  and  purposive  on  his.  It  was  a  pleasure  to 
him  to  make  this  conversation,  an  activity  pleasant  as  a  fine 
game  of  chance  and  skill.  He  was  very  quiet  and  pleasant- 
humoured,  but  so  full  of  strength.  She  fluttered  beside  his 
steady  pressure  of  warmth  and  his  surety. 

He  saw  the  performance  drawing  to  a  close.  His  senses 
were  alert  and  wilful.  He  would  press  his  advantages.  H( 
followed  her  and  her  plain  friend  down  the  stairs  to  the  sti 
It  was  raining. 

"  It's  a  nasty  night,"  he  said.  "  Shall  you  come  and  hav( 
a  drink  of  something  —  a  cup  of  coffee  —  it's  early  yet." 

"  Oh,  I  don't  think  so,"  she  said,  looking  away  into  th< 
night. 

"  I  wish  you  would,"  he  said,  putting  himself  as  it  were 
her  mercy.     There  was  a  moment's  pause. 

"  Come  to  Eollins  ?  "  he  said. 


THE  CHILD  215 

"No  —  not  there." 

"To  Carson's,  then?" 

There  was  a  silence.  The  other  girl  hung  on.  The  man 
was  the  centre  of  positive  force. 

"  Will  your  friend  come  as  well  ?  " 

There  was  another  moment  of  silence,  while  the  other  girl 
felt  her  ground. 

"  No,  thanks,"  she  said.     "  I've  promised  to  meet  a  friend." 

"  Another  time,  then  ?  "  he  said. 

"  Oh,  thanks,"  she  replied,  very  awkward. 

"  Good  night,"  he  said. 

"  See  you  later,"  said  his  girl  to  her  friend. 

"Where?"  said  the  friend. 

"  You  know,  Gertie,"  replied  his  girl. 

"  All  right,  Jennie." 

The  friend  was  gone  into  the  darkness.  He  turned  with 
his  girl  to  the  tea-shop.  They  talked  all  the  time.  He  made 
his  sentences  in  sheer,  almost  muscular  pleasure  of  exercising 
himself  with  her.  He  was  looking  at  her  all  the  time,  per- 
ceiving her,  appreciating  her,  finding  her  out,  gratifying  him- 
self with  her.  He  could  see  distinct  attractions  in  her;  her 
eyebrows,  with  their  particular  curve,  gave  him  keen  aesthetic 
pleasure.  Later  on  he  would  see  her  bright,  pellucid  eyes, 
like  shallow  water,  and  know  those.  And  there  remained  the 
open,  exposed  mouth,  red  and  vulnerable.  That  he  reserved  as 
yet.  And  all  the  while  his  eyes  were  on  the  girl,  estimating 
and  handling  with  pleasure  her  young  softness.  About  the 
girl  herself,  who  or  what  she  was,  he  cared  nothing,  he  was 
quite  unaware  that  she  was  anybody.  She  was  just  the  sensual 
object  of  his  attention. 

"  Shall  we  go,  then  ?  "  he  said. 

She  rose  in  silence,  as  if  acting  without  a  mind,  merely 
physically.  He  seemed  to  hold  her  in  his  will.  Outside  it  was 
still  raining. 

"Let's  have  a  walk,"  he  said.  "I  don't  mind  the  rain, 
do  you?" 

"  No,  I  don't  mind  it,"  she  said. 

He  was  alert  in  every  sense  and  fibre,  and  yet  quite  sure 
and  steady,  and  lit  up,  as  if  transfused.  He  had  a  free  sensa- 
tion of  walking  in  his  own  darkness,  not  in  anybody  else's 
world  at  all.  He  was  purely  a  world  to  himself,  he  had  noth- 
ing to  do  with  any  general  consciousness.  Just  his  own  senses 
were  supreme.  All  the  rest  was  external,  insignificant,  leav- 


216  THE  RAINBOW 

ing  him  alone  with  this  girl  whom  he  wanted  to  absorb,  whose 
properties  he  wanted  to  absorb  into  his  own  senses.  He  did 
not  care  about  her,  except  that  he  wanted  to  overcome  her 
resistance,  to  have  her  in  his  power,  fully  and  exhaustively  to 
enjoy  her. 

They  turned  into  the  dark  streets.  He  held  her  umbrella 
over  her,  and  put  his  arm  round  her.  She  walked  as  if  she 
were  unaware.  But  gradually,  as  he  walked,  he  drew  her  a 
little  closer,  into  the  movement  of  his  side  and  hip.  She  fitted 
in  there  very  well.  It  was  a  real  good  fit,  to  walk  with  her 
like  this.  It  made  him  exquisitely  aware  of  his  own  muscular 
self.  And  his  hand  that  grasped  her  side  felt  one  curve  of  her, 
and  it  seemed  like  a  new  creation  to  him,  a  reality,  an  abso- 
lute, an  existing  tangible  beauty  of  the  absolute.  It  was  like  a 
star.  Everything  in  him  was  absorbed  in  the  sensual  delight 
of  this  one  small,  firm  curve  in  her  body,  that  his  hand,  and 
his  whole  being,  had  lighted  upon. 

He  led  her  into  the  Park,  where  it  was  almost  dark.  He 
noticed  a  corner  between  two  walls,  under  a  great  overhanging 
bush  of  ivy. 

"  Let  us  stand  here  a  minute,"  he  said. 

He  put  down  the  umbrella,  and  followed  her  into  the  corner, 
retreating  out  of  the  rain.  He  needed  no  eyes  to  see.  All  he 
wanted  was  to  know  through  touch.  She  was  like  a  piece  of 
palpable  darkness.  He  found  her  in  the  darkness,  put  his. 
arms  round  her  and  his  hands  upon  her.  She  was  silent  and 
inscrutable.  But  he  did  not  want  to  know  anything  about 
her,  he  only  wanted  to  discover  her.  And  through  her  cloth- 
ing, what  absolute  beauty  he  touched. 

"  Take  your  hat  off/'  he  said. 

Silently,  obediently,  she  took  off  her  hat  and  gave  herseli 
to  his  arms  again.  He  liked  her  —  he  liked  the  feel  of  her  — 
he  wanted  to  know  her  more  closety.  He  let  his  fingers  subtly 
seek  out  her  cheek  and  neck.  What  amazing  beauty  and  pleas- 
ure, in  the  dark !  His  fingers  had  often  touched  Anna  on  the 
face  and  neck  like  that.  What  matter !  It  was  one  man  who 
touched  Anna,  another  who  now  touched  this  girl.  He  liked 
best  his  new  self.  He  was  given  over  altogether  to  the  sensu- 
ous knowledge  of  this  woman,  and  every  moment  he  seemed  to 
be  touching  absolute  beauty,  something  beyond  knowledge. 

Very  close,  marvelling  and  exceedingly  joyful  in  their  di* 
coveries,  his  hands  pressed  upon  her,  so  subtly,  so  seekingly, 


THE  CHILD  217 

finely  and  desirously  searching  her  out,  that  she  too  was  almost 
swooning  in  the  absolute  of  sensual  knowledge.  In  utter  sen- 
sual delight  she  clenched  her  knees,  her  thighs,  her  loins  to- 
gether !  It  was  an  added  beauty  to  him. 

But  he  was  patiently  working  for  her  relaxation,  patiently, 
his  whole  being  fixed  in  the  smile  of  latent  gratification,  his 
whole  body  electric  with  a  subtle,  powerful,  reducing  force 
upon  her.  So  he  came  at  length  to  kiss  her,  and  she  was  almost 
betrayed  by  his  insidious  kiss.  Her  open  mouth  was  too  help- 
less and  unguarded.  He  knew  this,  and  his  first  kiss  was  very 
gentle,  and  soft,  and  assuring,  so  assuring.  So  that  her  soft, 
defenceless  mouth  became  assured,  even  bold,  seeking  upon 
his  mouth.  And  he  answered  her  gradually,  gradually,  his 
soft  kiss  sinking  in  .softly,  softly,  but  ever  more  heavily,  more 
heavily  yet,  till  it  was  too  heavy  for  her  to  meet,  and  she 
began  to  sink  under  it.  She  was  sinking,  sinking,  his  smile 
of  latent  gratification  was  becoming  more  tense,  he  was  sure  of 
her.  He  let  the  whole  force  of  his  will  sink  upon  her  to  sweep 
her  away.  But  it  was  too  great  a  shock  for  her.  With  a  sud- 
den horrible  movement  she  ruptured  the  state  that  contained 
them  both. 

"  Don't  —  don't !  » 

It  was  a  rather  horrible  cry  that  seemed  to  come  out  of  her, 
not  to  belong  to  her.  It  was  some  strange  agony  of  terror 
crying  out  the  words.  There  was  something  vibrating  and 
beside  herself  in  the  noise.  His  nerves  ripped  like  silk. 

"  What's  the  matter  ?  "  he  said,  as  if  calmly.  "  What's  t  le 
matter?" 

She  came  back  to  him,  but  trembling,  reservedly  this  time, 

Her  cry  had  given  him  gratification.  But  he  knew  he  had 
been  too  sudden  for  her.  He  was  now  careful.  For  a  while 
he  merely  sheltered  her.  Also  there  had  broken  a  flaw  into 
his  perfect  will.  He  wanted  to  persist,  to  begin  again,  to  lead 
up  to  the  point  where  he  had  let  himself  go  on  her,  and  then 
manage  more  carefully,  successfully.  So  far  she  had  won. 
And  the  battle  was  not  over  yet.  But  another  voice  woke  in 
him  and  prompted  him  to  let  her  go  —  let  her  go  in  contempt. 

He  sheltered  her,  and  soothed  her,  and  caressed  her,  and 
kissed  her,  and  again  began  to  come  nearer,  nearer.  Ho 
gathered  himself  together.  Even  if  he  did  not  take  her,  hd 
would  make  her  relax,  he  would  fuse  away  her  resistance. 
So  softly,  softly,  with  infinite  caressiveness  he  kissed  her, 


218  THE  RAINBOW 

and  the  whole  of  his  being  seemed  to  fondle  her.  Till,  at  the 
verge,  swooning  at  the  breaking  point,  there  came  from  her 
a  beaten,  inarticulate,  moaning  cry : 

"Don't  —  oh,  don't!" 

Tps  veins  fused  with  extreme  voluptuousness.  For  a  mo- 
ment he  almost  lost  control  of  himself,  and  continued  auto- 
matically. But  there  was  a  moment  of  inaction,  of  cold  sus- 
pension. He  was  not  going  to  take  her.  He  drew  her  to  him 
and  soothed  her,  and  caressed  her.  But  the  pure  zest  had  gone. 
She  struggled  to  herself  and  realized  he  was  not  going  to  take 
her.  And  then,  at  the  very  last  moment,  when  his  fondling 
had  come  near  again,  his  hot  living  desire  despising  her, 
against  his  cold  sensual  desire,  she  broke  violently  away  from 
him. 

"  Don't,"  she  cried,  harsh  now  with  hatred,  and  she  flung 
Jier  hand  across  and  hit  him  violently.  "  Keep  off  of  me." 

His  blood  stood  still  for  a  moment.  Then  the  smile  came 
again  within  him,  steady,  cruel. 

"Why,  what's  the  matter?"  he  said,  with  suave  irony. 
"  Nobody's  going  to  hurt  you." 

"  I  know  what  you  want,"  she  said. 

"  7  know  what  1  want,"  he  said.     "  What's  the  odds  ?  " 

"  Well,  you're  not  going  to  have  it  off  me." 

"  Aren't  I  ?  Well,  then  I'm  not.  It's  no  use  crying  about 
it,  is  it?" 

"  No,  it  isn't,"  said  the  girl,  rather  disconcerted  by  his  irony. 

"  But  there's  no  need  to  have  a  row  about  it.  We  can  kiss 
goodnight  just  the  same,  can't  we  ?  " 

She  was  silent  in  the  darkness. 

"  Or  do  you  want  your  hat  and  umbrella  to  go  home  this 
minute  ?  " 

Still  she  was  silent.  He  watched  her  dark  figure  as  she 
stood  there  on  the  edge  of  the  faint  darkness,  and  he  waited. 

"  Come  and  say  goodnight  nicely,  if  we're  going  to  say  it," 
he  said. 

Still  she  did  not  stir.  He  put  his  hand  out  and  drew  her 
into  the  darkness  again. 

"  It's  warmer  in  here,"  he  said ;  "  a  lot  cosier." 

His  will  yet  had  not  relaxed  from  her.  The  moment  of 
hatred  exhilarated  him. 

"I'm  going  now,"  she  muttered,  as  he  closed  his  hand 
over  her. 

"  See  how  well  you  fit  your  place,"  he  said,  as  he  drew  her 


THE  CHILD  219 

to  her  previous  position,  close  upon  him.  "  What  do  you  want 
to  leave  it  for  ?  " 

And  gradually  the  intoxication  invaded  him  again,  the  zest 
came  back.  After  all,  why  should  he  not  take  her  ? 

But  she  did  not  yield  to  him  entirely. 

"  Are  you  a  married  man  ?  "  she  asked  at  length. 

"What  if  I  am?"  lie  said. 

She  did  not  answer. 

"  I  don't  ask  you  whether  you're  married  or  not,"  he  said. 

"  You  know  jolly  well  I'm  not,"  she  answered  hotly.  Oh, 
if  she  could  only  break  away  from  him,  if  only  she  need  not 
yield  to  him. 

At  length  her  will  became  cold  against  him.  She  had 
escaped.  But  she  hated  him  for  her  escape  more  than  for 
her  danger.  Did  he  despise  her  so  coldly?  And  she  was  in 
torture  of  adherence  to  him  still. 

"  Shall  I  see  you  next  week  —  next  Saturday?  "  he  said,  as 
they  returned  to  the  town.  She  did  not  answer. 

"  Come  to  the  Empire  with  me  —  you  and  Gertie/'  he  said. 

"  I  should  look  well,  going  with  a  married  man,"  she  said. 

"  I'm  no  less  of  a  man  for  being  married,  am  I  ?  "  he  said- 

"  Oh,  it's  a  different  matter  altogether  with  a  married  man/* 
she  said,  in  a  ready-made  speech  that  showed  her  chagrin. 

"  How's  that  ?  "  he  asked. 

But  she  would  not  enlighten  him.  Yet  she  promised,  with- 
out promising,  to  be  at  the  meeting-place  next  Saturday  even- 
ing. 

So  he  left  her.  He  did  not  know  her  name.  He  caught  a 
train  and  went  home. 

It  was  the  last  train,  he  was  very  late.  He  was  not  home 
till  midnight.  But  he  was  quite  indifferent.  He  had  no  real 
relation  with  his  home,  not  this  man  which  he  now  was. 
Anna  was  sitting  up  for  him.  She  saw  the  queer,  absolved 
look  on  his  face,  a  sort  of  latent,  almost  sinister  smile,  as  if 
he  were  absolved  from  his  "  good  "  ties. 

"Where  have  you  been?"  she  asked,  puzzled,  interested. 

"  To  the  Empire." 

"Who  with?" 

"  By  myself.     I  came  home  with  Tom  Cooper." 

She  looked  at  him,  and  wondered  what  he  had  been  doing. 
She  was  indifferent  as  to  whether  he  lied  or  not. 

"  You  have  come  home  very  strange,"  she  said.  And  there 
was  an  appreciative  inflexion  in  the  speech. 


2£0  THE  RAINBOW 

He  was  not  affected.  As  for  his  humble,  good  self,  he  was 
absolved  from  it.  He  sat  down  and  ate  heartily.  He  was  not 
tired.  He  seemed  to  take  no  notice  of  her. 

For  Anna  the  moment  was  critical.  She  kept  herself  aloof, 
and  watched  him.  He  talked  to  her,  but  with  a  little  indiffer- 
ence, since  he  was  scarcely  aware  of  her.  So,  then  she  did  not 
affect  him  ?  Here  was  a  new  turn  of  affairs  !  He  was  rather 
attractive,  nevertheless.  She  liked  him  better  than  the  ordi- 
nary mute,  half-effaced,  half-subdued  man  she  usually  knew 
him  to  be.  So,  he  was  blossoming  out  into  his  real  self !  It 
piqued  her.  Very  good,  let  him  blossom!  She  liked  a  new 
turn  of  affairs.  He  was  a  strange  man  come  home  to  her. 
Glancing  at  him,  she  saw  she  could  not  reduce  him  to  what  he 
had  been  before.  In  an  instant  she  gave  it  up.  Yet  not  with- 
out a  pang  of  rage,  which  would  insist  on  their  old,  beloved 
love,  their  old,  accustomed  intimacy  and  her  old,  established 
supremacy.  She  almost  rose  up  to  fight  for  them.  And  look- 
ing at  him,  and  remembering  his  father,  she  was  wary.  This 
was  the  new  turn  of  affairs ! 

Very  good,  if  she  could  not  influence  him  in  the  old  way, 
she  would  be  level  with  him  in  the  new.  Her  old  defiant 
hostility  came  up.  Very  good,  she  too  was  out  on  her  own 
adventure.  Her  voice,  her  manner  changed,  she  was  ready 
for  the  game.  Something  was  liberated  in  her.  She  liked 
him.  She  liked  this  strange  man  come  home  to  her.  He 
was  very  welcome,  indeed !  She  was  very  glad  to  welcome 
a  stranger.  She  had  been  bored  by  the  old  husband.  To 
his  latent,  cruel  smile  she  replied  with  brilliant  challenge. 
He  expected  her  to  keep  the  moral  fortress.  Not  she!  It 
was  much  too  dull  a  part.  She  challenged  him  back  with  a 
sort  of  radiance,  very  bright  and  free,  opposite  to  him.  He 
looked  at  her,  and  his  eyes  glinted.  She  too  was  out  in  the 
field. 

His  senses  pricked  up  and  keenly  attended  to  her.  She 
laughed,  perfectly  indifferent  and  loose  as  he  was.  He  came 
towards  her.  She  neither  rejected  him  nor  responded  to  him. 
In  a  kind  of  radiance,  superb  in  her  inscrutability,  she  laughed 
before  him.  She  too  could  throw  everything  overboard,  love, 
intimacy,  responsibility.  What  were  her  four  children  to  her 
now  ?  What  did  it  matter  that  this  man  was  the  father  of  her 
four  children? 

He  was  the  sensual  male  seeking  his  pleasure,  she  was  the 
female  ready  to  take  hers :  but  in  her  own  way.  A  man  could 


THE  CHILD  22) 

turn  into  a  free  lance :  so  then  could  a  woman.  She  adhered 
as  little  as  he  to  the  moral  world.  All  that  had  gone  before 
was  nothing  to  her.  She  was  another  woman,  under  the  in- 
stance of  a  strange  man.  He  was  a  stranger  to  her,  seeking  his 
own  ends.  Very  good.  She  wanted  to  see  what  this  stranger 
would  do  now,  what  he  was. 

She  laughed,  and  kept  him  at  arms'  length,  whilst  appar- 
ently ignoring  him.  She  watched  him  undress  as  if  he  were 
a  stranger.  Indeed  he  was  a  stranger  to  her. 

And  she  roused  him  profoundly,  violently,  even  before  he 
touched  her.  The  little  creature  in  Nottingham  had  but  been 
leading  up  to  this.  They  abandoned  in  one  motion  the  moral 
position,  each  was  seeking  gratification  pure  and  simple. 

Strange  his  wife  was  to  him.  It  was  as.  if  he  were  a  perfect 
stranger,  as  if  she  were  infinitely  and  essentially  strange  to 
him,  the  other  half  of  the  world,  the  dark  half  of  the  moon. 
She  waited  for  his  touch  as  if  he  were  a  marauder  who  had 
come  in,  infinitely  unknown  and  desirable  to  her.  And  he 
began  to  discover  her.  He  had  an  inkling  of.  the  vastness  of 
the  unknown  sensual  store  of  delights  she  was.  With  a  pas- 
sion of  voluptuousness  that  made  him  dwell  on  each  tiny 
beauty,  in  a  kind  of  frenzy  of  enjoyment,  he  lit  upon  her :  her 
beauty,  the  beauties,  the  separate,  several  beauties  of  her  body. 

He  was  quite  ousted  from  himself,  and  sensually  trans- 
ported by  that  which  he  discovered  in  her.  He  was  another 
man  revelling  over  her.  There  was  no  tenderness,  no  love 
between  them  any  more,  only  the  maddening,  sensuous  lust 
for  discovery  and  the  insatiable,  exorbitant  gratification  in  the 
sensual  beauties  of  her  body.  And  she  was  a  store,  a  store  of 
absolute  beauties  that  it  drove  him  mad  to  contemplate.  There 
was  such  a  feast  to  enjoy,  and  he  with  only  one  man's  capacity. 

He  lived  in  a  passion  of  sensual  discovery  with  her  for  some 
time  —  it  was  a  duel :  no  love,  no  words,  no  kisses  even,  only 
the  maddening  perception  of  beauty  consummate,  absolute 
through  touch.  He  wanted  to  touch  her,  to  discover  her,  mad- 
deningly he  wanted  to  know  her.  Yet  he  must  not  hurry,  or  he 
missed  everything.  He  must  enjoy  one  beauty  at  a  time. 
And  the  multitudinous  beauties  of  her  body,  the  many  little 
rapturous  places,  sent  him  mad  with  delight,  and  with  desire 
to  be  able  to  know  more,  to  have  strength  to  know  more.  For 
all  was  there. 

He  would  say  during  the  daytime : 

"  To-night  I  shall  know  the  little  hollow  under  her  ankle, 


222  THE  RAINBOW 

where  the  blue  vein  crosses."  And  the  thought  of  it,  and  the 
desire  for  it,  made  a  thick  darkness  of  anticipation. 

He  would  go  all  the  day  waiting  for  the  night  to  come,  when 
he  could  give  himself  to  the  enjoyment  of  some  luxurious  ab- 
solute of  beauty  in  her.  The  thought  of  the  hidden  resources 
of  her,  the  undiscovered  beauties  and  ecstatic  places  of  delight 
in  her  body,  waiting,  only  waiting  for  him  to  discover  them, 
sent  him  slightly  insane.  He  was  obsessed.  If  he  did  not 
discover  and  make  known  to  himself  these  delights,  they  might 
be  lost  for  ever.  He  wished  he  had  a  hundred  men's  energies, 
with  which  to  enjoy  her. 

And  she,  separate,  with  a  strange,  dangerous,  glistening  look 
in  her  eyes  received  all  his  activities  upon  her  as  if  they  were 
expected  by  her,  and  provoked  him  when  he  was  quiet  to  more, 
till  sometimes  he  was  ready  to  perish  for  sheer  inability  to  be 
satisfied  of  her,  inability  to  have  had  enough  of  her. 

Their  children  became  mere  offspring  to  them,  they  lived 
in  the  darkness  and  death  of  their  own  sensual  activities. 
Sometimes  he  felt  he  was  going  mad  with  a  sense  of  Absolute 
Beauty,  perceived  by  him  in  her  through  his  senses.  It  was 
something  too  much  for  him.  And  in  everything,  was  this 
same,  almost  sinister,  terrifying  beauty.  But  in  the  revela- 
tions of  her  body  through  contact  with  his  body,  was  the 
ultimate  beauty,  to  know  which  was  almost  death  in  itself, 
and  yet  for  the  knowledge  of  which  he  would  have  under- 
gone endless  torture.  He  would  have  forfeited  anything, 
anything,  rather  than  forego  his  right  even  to  the  instep  of  her 
foot,  and  the  place  from  which  the  toes  radiated  out,  the  little, 
miraculous  white  plain  from  which  ran  the  little  hillocks  of 
the  toes,  and  the  folded,  dimpling  hollows  between  the  toes. 
He  felt  he  would  have  died  rather  than  forfeit  this. 

This  was  what  their  love  had  become,  a  sensuality  violent 
and  extreme  as  death.  They  had  no  conscious  intimacy,  no 
tenderness  of  love.  It  was  all  the  lust  and  the  infinite,  mad- 
dening intoxication  of  the  senses,  a  passion  of  death. 

He  had  always,  all  his  life,  had  a  secret  dread  of  Absolute 
Beauty.  It  had  always  been  like  a  fetish  to  him,  something 
to  fear,  really.  For  it  was  immoral  and  against  mankind. 
So  he  had  turned  to  the  Gothic  form,  which  always  asserted 
the  broken  desire  of  mankind  in  its  pointed  arches,  escaping 
the  rolling,  absolute  beauty  of  the  round  arch. 

But  now  he  had  given  way,  and  with  infinite  sensual  violen 


THE  CHILD  223 

gave  himself  to  the  realization  of  this  supreme,  immoral,  Abso- 
lute Beauty,  in  the  body  of  woman.  It  seemed  to  him,  that  it 
came  to  being  in  the  body  of  woman,  under  his  touch.  Under 
his  touch,  even  under  his  sight,  it  was  there.  But  when  he 
neither  saw  nor  touched  the  perfect  place,  it  was  not  perfect, 
it  was  not  there.  And  he  must  make  it  exist. 

But  still  the  thing  terrified  him.  Awful  and  threatening 
it  was,  dangerous  to  a  degree,  even  whilst  he  gave  himself  to 
it.  It  was  pure  darkness,  also.  All  the  shameful  things  of  the 
body  revealed  themselves  to  him  now  with  a  sort  of  sinister, 
tropical  beauty.  All  the  shameful,  natural  and  unnatural 
acts  of  sensual  voluptuousness  which  he  and  the  woman  par- 
took of  together,  created  together,  they  had  their  heavy  beauty 
and  their  delight.  Shame,  what  was  it?  It  was  part  of  ex- 
treme delight.  It  was  that  part  of  delight  of  which  man  is 
usually  afraid.  Why  afraid?  The  secret,  shameful  things 
are  most  terribly  beautiful. 

They  accepted  shame,  and  were  one  with  it  in  their  most 
unlicensed  pleasures.  It  was  incorporated.  It  was  a  bud  that 
blossomed  into  beauty  and  heavjr,  fundamental  gratification. 

Their  outward  life  went  on  much  the  same. 'but  the  inward 
life  was  revolutionized.  The  children  became  less  important, 
the  parents  were  absorbed  in  their  own  living. 

And  gradually,  Brangwen  began  to  find  himself  free  to 
attend  to  the  outside  life  as  well.  His  intimate  life  was  so 
violently  active,  that  it  set  another  man  in  him  free.  And 
this  new  man  turned  with  interest  to  public  life,  to  see  what 
part  he  could  take  in  it.  This  would  give  him  scope  for  new 
activity,  activity  of  a  kind  for  which  he  was  now  created  and 
released.  He  wanted  to  be  unanimous  with  the  whole  of  pur- 
posive mankind. 

At  this  time  Education  was  in  the  forefront  as  a  subject 
of  interest.  There  was  the  talk  of  new  Swedish  methods,  of 
handwork  instruction,  and  so  on.  Brangwen  embraced  sin- 
cerely the  idea  of  handwork  in  schools.  For  the  first  time,  he 
began  to  take  real  interest  in  a  public  affair.  He  had  at  length, 
from  his  profound  sensual  activitv,  developed  a  real  purposive 
self. 

There  was  talk  of  night-schools,  and  of  handicraft  classes. 
He  wanted  to  start  a  woodwork  class  in  Cossethay,  to  teach 
carpentry  and  joinery  and  wood-carving  to  the  village  boys, 
two  nights  a  week.  This  seemed  to  him  a  supremely  desirable 


224  THE  RAINBOW 

thing  to  be  doing.  His  pay  would  be  very  little  —  and  when 
he  had  it,  he  spent  it  all  on  extra  wood  and  tools.  But  he  was 
very  happy  and  keen  in  his  new  public  spirit. 

He  started  his  night-classes  in  woodwork  when  he  was  thirty 
years  old.  By  this  time  he  had  five  children,  the  last  a  boy. 
But  boy  or  girl  mattered  very  little  to  him.  He  had  a  natural 
blood-affection  for  his  children,  and  he  liked  them  as  they 
turned  up:  boys  or  girls.  Only  he  was  fondest  of  Ursula. 
Somehow,  she  seemed  to  be  at  the  back  of  his  new  night-school 
venture. 

The  house  by  the  yew  trees  was  in  connection  with  the  great 
human  endeavour  at  last.  It  gained  a  new  vigour  thereby. 

To  Ursula,  a  child  of  eight,  the  increase  in  magic  was  con- 
siderable. She  heard  all  the  talk,  she  saw  the  parish  room 
fitted  up  as  a  workshop.  The  parish  room  was  a  high,  stone, 
barn-like,  ecclesiastical  building  standing  away  by  itself  in  tljie 
Brangwens'  second  garden,  across  the  lane.  She  was  always 
attracted  by  its  age  and  its  stranded  obsoleteness.  Now  she 
watched  preparations  made,  she  sat  on  the  flight  of  stone  steps 
that  came  down  from  the  porch  to  the  garden,  and  heard  her 
father  and  the  vicar  talking  and  planning  and  working.  Then 
an  inspector  came,  a  very  strange  man,  and  stayed  talking  with 
her  father  all  one  evening.  Everything  was  settled,  and 
twelve  boys  enrolled  their  names.  It  was  very  exciting. 

But  to  Ursula,  everything  her  father  did  was  magic. 
Whether  he  came  from  Ilkeston  with  news  of  the  town,  whether 
he  went  across  to  the  church  with  his  music  or  his  tools  on  a 
sunny  evening,  whether  he  sat  in  his  white  surplice  at  the 
organ  on  Sundays,  leading  the  singing  with  his  strong  tenor 
voice,  or  whether  he  were  in  the  workshop  with  the  boys,  he 
was  always  a  centre  of  magic  and  fascination  to  her,  his  voice, 
sounding  out  in  command,  cheerful,  laconic,  had  always  a 
twang  in  it  that  sent  a  thrill  over  her  blood,  and  hypnotized 
her.  She  seemed  to  run  in  the  shadow  of  some  dark,  potent 
secret  of  which  she  would  not,  of  whose  existence  even  she 
dared  not  become  conscious,  it  cast  such  a  spell  over  her,  and 
so  darkened  her  mind. 


CHAPTER  IX 

THE   MARSH   AND   THE  FLOOD 

THERE  was  always  regular  connection  between  the 
Yew  Cottage  and  the  Marsh,  yet  the  two  house- 
holds remained  separate,  distinct. 

After  Anna's  marriage,  the  Marsh  became  the 
home  of  the  two  boys,  Tom  and  Fred.  Tom  was  a  rather  short, 
good-looking  youth,  with  crisp  black  hair  and  long  black  eye- 
lashes and  soft,  dark,  possessed  eyes.  He  had  a  quick  intelli- 
gence. From  the  High  School  he  went  to  London  to  study. 
He  had  an  instinct  for  attracting  people  of  character  and 
energy.  He  gave  place  entirely  to  the  other  person,  and  at  the 
same  time  kept  himself  independent.  He  scarcely  existed  ex- 
cept through  other  people.  When  he  was  alone  he  was  unre- 
solved. When  he  was  with  another  man,  he  seemed  to  add 
himself  to  the  other,  make  the  other  bigger  than  life  size. 
So  that  a  few  people  loved  him  and  attained  a  sort  of  fulfil- 
ment in  him.  He  carefully  chose  these  few. 

He  had  a  subtle,  quick,  critical  intelligence,  a  mind  that 
was  like  a  scale  or  balance.  There  was  something  of  a  woman 
in  all  this. 

In  London  he  had  been  the  favourite  pupil  of  an  engineer, 
a  clever  man,  who  became  well-known  at  the  time  when  Tom 
Brangwen  had  just  finished  his  studies.  Through  this  master 
the  youth  kept  acquaintance  with  various  individual,  oat- 
standing  characters.  He  never  asserted  himself.  He  seemed 
to  be  there  to  estimate  and  establish  the  rest.  He  was  like  a 
presence  that  makes  us  aware  of  our  own  being.  So  that  he 
was  while  still  young  connected  with  some  of  the  most  ener- 
getic scientific  and  mathematical  people  in  London.  They 
took  him  as  an  equal.  Quiet  and  perceptive  and  impersonal 
as  he  was,  he  kept  his  place  and  learned  how  to  value  others 
in  just  degree.  He  was  there  like  a  judgment.  Besides,  he 
was  very  good-looking,  of  medium  stature,  but  beautifully  pro- 
portioned, dark,  with  fine  colouring,  always  perfectly  healthy, 

His   father  allowed  him  a  liberal  pocket-money,  besides 

225 


226  THE  RAINBOW 

which  he  had  a  sort  of  post  as  assistant  to  his  chief.  Then 
from  time  to  time  the  young  man  appeared  at  the  Marsh, 
curiously  attractive,  well-dressed,  reserved,  having  by  nature 
a  subtle,  refined  manner.  And  he  set  the  change  in  the  farm. 

Fred,  the  younger  brother,  was  a  Brangwen,  large-boned, 
blue-eyed,  English.  He  was  his  father's  very  son,  the  two 
men,  father  and  son,  were  supremely  at  ease  with  one  another. 
Fred  was  succeeding  to  the  farm. 

Between  the  elder  brother  and  the  younger  existed  an  almost 
passionate  love.  Tom  watched  over  Fred  with  a  woman's 
poignant  attention  and  self-less  care.  Fred  looked  up  to  Tom 
as  to  something  miraculous,  that  which  he  himself  would 
aspire  to  be,  were  he  great  also. 

So  that  after  Anna's  departure,  the  Marsh  began  to  take  on 
a  new  tone.  The  boys  were  gentlemen;  Tom  had  a  rare  na- 
ture and  had  risen  high.  Fred  was  sensitive  and  fond  of 
reading,  he  pondered  Buskin  and  then  the  Agnostic  writings. 
Like  all  the  Brangwens,  he  was  very  much  a  thing  to  himself, 
though  fond  of  people,  and  indulgent  to  them,  having  an 
exaggerated  respect  for  them. 

There  was  a  rather  uneasy  friendship  between  him  and  one 
of  the  young  Hardys  at  the  Hall.  The  two  households  were 
different,  yet  the  young  men  met  on  shy  terms  of  equality. 

It  was  young  Tom  Brangwen,  with  his  dark  lashes  and  beau- 
tiful colouring,  his  soft,  inscrutable  nature,  his  strange  repose 
and  his  informed  air,  added  to  his  position  in  London,  who 
seemed  to  emphasize  the  superior  foreign  element  in  the 
Marsh.  When  he  appeared,  perfectly  dressed,  as.  if  soft  and 
affable,  and  yet  quite  removed  from  everybody,  he  created 
an  uneasiness  in  people,  he  was  reserved  in  the  minds  of  the 
Cossethay  and  llkeston  acquaintances  to  a  different,  remote 
world. 

He  and  his  mother  had  a  kind  of  affinity.  The  affection 
between  them  was  of  a  mute,  distant  character,  but  radical. 
His  father  was  always  uneasy  and  slightly  deferential  to  his 
eldest  son.  Tom  also  formed  the  link  that  kept  the  Marsh 
in  real  connection  with  the  Skrebenskys,  now  quite  important 
people  in  their  own  district.  , 

So  a  change  in  tone  came  over  the  Marsh.  Tom  Brangwen 
the  father,  as  he  grew  older,  seemed  to  mature  into  a  gentle- 
man-farmer. His  figure  lent  itself:  burly  and  handsome. 
His  face  remained  fresh  and  his  blue  eyes  as  full  of  light, 
his  thick  hair  and  beard  had  turned  gradually  to  a  silky  white- 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  227 

ness.  It  was  his  custom  to  laugh  a  great  deal,  in  his  acqui- 
escent, wilful  manner.  Things  had  puzzled  him  very  much, 
so  he  had  taken  the  line  of  easy,  good-humoured  acceptance. 
He  was  not  responsible  for  the  frame  of  things.  Yet  he  was 
afraid  of  the  unknown  in  life. 

He  was  fairly  well-off.  His  wife  was  there  with  him,  a 
different  being  from  himself,  yet  somewhere  vitally  connected 
with  him :  —  who  was  he  to  understand  where  and  how  ?  His 
two  sons  were  gentlemen.  They  were  men  distinct  from  him- 
self, they  had  separate  beings  of  their  own,  yet  they  were 
connected  with  himself.  It  was  all  adventurous  and  puzzling. 
Yet  one  remained  vital  within  one's  own  existence,  whatever 
the  off-shoots. 

$o,  handsome  and  puzzled,  he  laughed  and  stuck  to  him- 
self as  the  only  thing  he  could  stick  to.  His  youngness  and 
the  wonder  remained  almost  the  same  in  him.  He  became 
indolent,  he  developed  a  luxuriant  ease.  Fred  did  most  of  the 
farm-work,  the  father  saw  to  the  more  important  transactions. 
He  drove  a  good  mare,  and  sometimes  he  rode  bis  cob.  He 
drank  in  the  hotels  and  the  inns  with  better-class  farmers  and 
proprietors,  he  had  well-to-do  acquaintances  among  men. 
But  one  class  suited  him  no  better  than  another. 

His  wife,  as  ever,  had  no  acquaintances.  Her  hair  was 
threaded  now  with  grey,  her  face  grew  older  in  form  without 
changing  in  expression.  She  seemed  the  same  as  when  she 
had  come  to  the  Marsh  twenty-five  years  ago,  save  that  her 
health  was  more  fragile.  She  seemed  always  to  haunt  the 
Marsh  rather  than  to  live  there.  She  was  never  part  of  the 
life.  Something  she  represented  was  alien  there,  she  re- 
mained a  stranger  within  the  gates,  in  some  ways  fixed  and 
impervious,  in  some  ways  curiously  refining.  She  caused  the 
separateness  and  individuality  of  all  the  Marsh  inmates,  the 
friability  of  the  household. 

When  young  Tom  Brangwen  was  twenty-three  years  old 
there  was  some  breach  between  him  and  his  chief  which  was 
never  explained,  and  he  went  away  to  Italy,  then  to  America. 
He  came  home  for  a  while,  then  went  to  Germany ;  always  the 
same  good-looking,  carefully-dressed,  attractive  young  man,  in 
perfect  health,  yet  somehow  outside  of  everything.  In  his 
dark  eyes  was  a  deep  misery  which  he  wore  with  the  same  ease 
and  pleasantness  as  he  wore  his  close-sitting  clothes. 

To  Ursula  he  was  a  romantic,  alluring  figure.  He  had  a 
grace  of  bringing  beautiful  presents:  a  box  of  expensive 


228  THE  RAINBOW 

aweets,  such  as  Cossethay  had  never  seen;  or  he  gave  her  a 
hair-brush  and  a  long  slim  mirror  of  mother-of-pearl,  all  pale 
and  glimmering  and  exquisite ;  or  he  sent  her  a  little  necklace 
of  rough  stones,  amethyst  and  opal  and  brilliants  and  garnet. 
He  spoke  other  languages  easily  and  fluently,  his  nature  was 
curiously  gracious  and  insinuating.  With  all  that,  he  was 
undefinably  an  outsider.  He  belonged  to  nowhere,  to  no  so- 
ciety. 

Anna  Brangwen  had  left  her  intimacy  with  her  father  un- 
developed since  the  time  of  her  marriage.  At  her  marriage 
it  had  been  abandoned.  He  and  she  had  drawn  a  reserve 
between  them.  Anna  went  more  to  her  mother. 

Then  suddenly  the  father  died. 

It  happened  one  springtime  when  Ursula  was  about  eight 
years  old,  he,  Tom  Brangwen,  drove  off  on  a  Saturday  morn- 
ing to  the  market  in  Nottingham,  saying  he  might  not  be  back 
till  late,  as  there  was  a  special  show  and  then  a  meeting  he 
had  to  attend.  His  family  understood  that  he  would  enjoy 
himself. 

The  season  had  been  rainy  and  dreary.  In  the  evening  it 
was  pouring  with  rain.  Fred  Brangwen,  unsettled,  uneasy, 
did  not  go  out,  as  was  his  wont.  He  smoked  and  read  and 
fidgeted,  hearing  always  the  trickling  of  water  outside.  This 
wet,  black  night  seemed  to  cut  him  off  and  make  him  unset- 
tled, aware  of  himself,  aware  that  he  wanted  something  else, 
aware  that  he  was  scarcely  living.  There  seemed  to  him  to  be 
no  root  to  his  life,  no  place  for  him  to  get  satisfied  in.  He 
dreamed  of  going  abroad.  But  his  instinct  knew  that  change 
of  place  would  not  solve  his  problem.  He  wanted  change, 
deep,  vital  change  of  living.  And  he  did  not  know  how  to 
get  it. 

Tilly,  an  old  woman  now,  came  in  saying  that  the  labourers 
who  had  been  suppering  up  said  the  yard  and  everywhere  was 
just  a  slew  of  water.  He  heard  in  indifference.  But  he  hated 
a  desolate,  raw  wetness  in  the  world.  He  would  leave  the 
Marsh. 

His  mother  was  in  bed.  At  last  he  shut  his  book,  his  mind 
was  blank,  he  walked  upstairs  intoxicated  with  depression  and 
anger,  and,  intoxicated  with  depression  and  anger,  locked 
himself  into  sleep. 

Tilly  set  slippers  before  the  kitchen  fire,  and  she  also  went 
to  bed,  leaving  the  door  unlocked.  Then  the  farm  was  in 
darkness,  in  the  rain. 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  229 

At  eleven  o'clock  it  was  still  raining.  Tom  Brangwen 
stood  in  the  yard  of  the  Angel,  in  Nottingham,  and  buttoned 
his  coat. 

"  Oh,  well/'  he  said  cheerfully,  "  it's  rained  on  me  before. 
Put  'er  in,  Jack,  my  lad,  put  her  in  —  Tha'rt  a  rare  old  cock,, 
Jacky-boy,  wi'  a  belly  on  thee  as  does  credit  to  thy  drink, 
if  not  to  thy  corn.  Co'  up,  lass,  let's  get  off  ter  th'  old  home- 
stead. Oh,  my  heart,  what  a  wetness  in  the  night !  There'll 
be -no  volcanoes  after  this.  Hey,  Jack,  my  beautiful  young 
slender  feller,  which  of  us  is  Noah  ?  It  seems  as  though  the 
water-works  is  bursted.  Ducks  and  ayquatic  fowl  '11  be  king 
o?  the  castle  at  this  rate  —  dove  an'  olive  branch  an'  all. 
Stand  up  then,  gel,  stand  up,  we're  not  stoppin'  here  all  night, 
even  if  you  thought  we  was.  I'm  dashed  if  the  jumping  rain 
wouldn't  make  anybody  think  they  was  drunk.  Hey,  Jack  — 
does  rain-water  wash  the  sense  in,  or  does  it  wash  it  out  ?  " 
And  he  laughed  to  himself  at  the  joke. 

He  was  always  ashamed  when  he  had  to  drive  after  he  had 
been  drinking,  always  apologetic  to  the  horse.  His  apologetic 
frame  made  him  facetious.  He  was  aware  of  his  inability  to 
walk  quite  straight.  Nevertheless  his  will  kept  stiff  and  at- 
tentive, in  all  his  fuddledness. 

He  mounted  and  bowled  off  through  the  gates  of  the  inii- 
yard.  The  mare  went  well,  he  sat  fixed,  the  rain  beating  on 
his  face.  His  heavy  body  rode  motionless  in  a  kind  of  sleep, 
one  centre  of  attention  was  kept  fitfully  burning,  the  rest  was 
dark.  He  concentrated  his  last  attention  on  the  fact  of  driv- 
ing along  the  road  he  knew  so  well.  He  knew  it  so  well,  he 
watched  for  it  attentively,  with  an  effort  of  will. 

He  talked  aloud  to  himself,  sententious  in  his  anxiety,  as 
if  he  were  perfectly  sober,  whilst  the  mare  bowled  along  and 
the  rain  beat  on  him.  He  watched  the  rain  before  the  gig- 
lamps,  the  faint  gleaming  of  the  shadowy  horse's  body,  thr 
passing  of  the  dark  hedges. 

"  It's  not  a  fit  night  to  turn  a  dog  out,"  he  said  to  himself, 
aloud.  "  It's  high  time  as  it  did  a  bit  of  clearing  up,  I'll  be 
damned  if  it  isn't.  It  was  a  lot  of  use  putting  those  ten 
loads  of  cinders  on  th'  road.  They'll  be  washed  to  kingdom- 
come  if  it  doesn't  alter.  Well,  it's  our  Fred's  look-out,  if 
they  are.  He's  top-sawyer  as  far  as  those  things  go.  I  don't 
see  why  I  should  concern  myself.  They  can  wash  to  king- 
dom-come and  back  again  for  what  I  care.  I  suppose  they 
would  be  washed  back  again  some  day.  That's  how  things 


230  THE  RAINBOW 

are.  Th'  rain  tumbles  down  just  to  mount  up  in  clouds 
again.  So  they  say.  There's  no  more  water  on  the  earth 
than  there  was  in  the  year  naught.  That's  the  story,  my  boy, 
if  you  understand  it.  There's  no  more  to-day  than  there  was 
a  thousand  years  ago  —  nor  no  less  either.  You  can't  wear 
water  out.  No,  my  boy:  it'll  give  you  the  go-by.  Try  to 
wear  it  out,  and  it  takes  its  hook  into  vapour,  it  has  its  fingers 
at  its  nose  to  you.  It  turns  into  cloud  and  falleth  as  rain  on 
the  just  and  unjust.  I  wonder  if  I'm  the  just  or  the  unjust." 

He  started  awake  as  the  trap  lurched  deep  into  a  rut.  And 
lie  wakened  to  the  point  in  his  journey.  He  had  travelled 
some  distance  since  he  was  last  conscious. 

But  at  length  he  reached  the  gate,  and  stumbled  heavily 
down,  reeling,  gripping  fast  to  the  trap.  He  descended  into 
several  inches  of  water. 

"  Be  damned !  "  he  said  angrily.  "  Be  damned  to  the  mis- 
erable slop." 

And  he  led  the  horse  washing  through  the  gate.  He  was 
quite  drunk  now,  moving  blindly,  in  habit.  Everywhere  there 
was  water  underfoot. 

The  raised  causeway  of  the  house  and  the  farm-stead  was 
dry,  however.  But  there  was  a  curious  roar  in  the  night 
which  seemed  to  be  made  in  the  darkness  of  his  own  intoxica- 
tion. Eeeling,  blinded,  almost  without  consciousness  he  car- 
ried his  parcels  and  the  rug  and  cushions  into  the  house, 
dropped  them,  and  went  out  to  put  up  the  horse. 

Now  he  was  at  home,  he  was  a  sleep-walker,  waiting  only 
for  the  moment  of  activity  to  stop.  Very  deliberately  and 
carefully,  he  led  the  horse  down  the  slope  to  the  cart-shed. 
She  shied  and  backed. 

"  Why,  wha's  amiss  ?  "  he  hiccupped,  plodding  steadily  on. 
And  he  was  again  in  a  wash  of  water,  the  horse  splashed  up 
water  as  she  went.  It  was  thickly  dark,  save  for  the  gig- 
lamps,  and  they  lit  on  a  rippling  surface  of  water. 

"  Well,  that's  a  knock-out,"  he  said,  as  he  came  to  the  cart- 
shed,  and  was  wading  in  six  inches  of  water.  But  everything 
seemed  to  him  amusing.  He  laughed  to  think  of  six  inches 
of  water  being  in  the  cart-shed. 

He  backed  in  the  mare.  She  was  restive.  He  laughed  at 
the  fun  of  untackling  the  mare  with  a  lot  of  water  washing 
round  his  feet.  He  laughed  because  it  upset  her.  "  What's 
amiss,  what's  amiss,  a  drop  o'  water  won't  hurt  you ! "  As 
soon  as  he  had  undone  the  traces,  she  walked  quickly  away. 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  231 

He  hung  up  the  shafts  and  took  the  gig-lamp.  As  he 
came  out  of  the  familiar  jumble  of  shafts  and  wheels  in  the 
shed,  the  water,  in  little  waves,  came  washing  strongly  against 
his  legs.  He  staggered  and  almost  fell. 

"  Well,  what  the  deuce ! "  he  said,  staring  round  at  the 
running  water  in  the  black,  watery  night. 

He  went  to  meet  the  running  flood,  sinking  deeper  and 
deeper.  His  soul  was  full  of  great  astonishment.  He  had 
to  go  and  look  where  it  came  from,  though  the  ground  was 
going  from  under  his  feet.  He  went  on,  down  towards  the 
pond,  shakily.  He  rather  enjoyed  it.  He  was  knee-deep,  and 
the  water  was  pulling  heavily.  He  stumbled,  reeled  sicken- 
ingly. 

Fear  took  hold  of  him.  Gripping  tightly  to  the  lamp,  he 
reeled,  and  looked  round.  The  water  was  carrying  his  feet 
away,  he  was  dizzy.  He  did  not  know  which  way  to  turn. 
The  water  was  whirling,  whirling,  the  whole  black  night  was 
swooping  in  rings.  He  swayed  uncertainly  at  the  centre  of 
all  the  attack,  reeling  in  dismay.  In  his  soul,  he  knew  he 
would  fall. 

As  he  staggered  something  in  the  water  struck  his  legs,  and 
he  fell.  Instantly  he  was  in  the  turmoil  of  suffocation.  He 
fought  in  a  black  horror  of  suffocation,  fighting,  v/restling, 
but  always  borne  down,  borne  inevitably  down.  Still  he 
wrestled  and  fought  to  get  himself  free,  in  the  unutterable 
struggle  of  suffocation,  but  he  always  fell  again  deeper. 
Something  struck  his  head,  a  great  wonder  of  anguish  went 
over  him,  then  the  blackness  covered  him  entirely. 

In  the  utter  darkness,  the  unconscious,  drowning  body  was 
rolled  along,  the  waters  pouring,  washing,  filling  in  the  place. 
The  cattle  woke  up  and  rose  to  their  feet,  the  dog  began  to 
yelp.  And  the  unconscious,  drowning  body  was  washed  along 
in  the  black,  swirling  darkness,  passively. 

Mrs.  Brangwen  woke  up  and  listened.  With  preternatu- 
rally  sharp  senses  she  heard  the  movement  of  all  the  darkness 
that  swirled  outside.  For  a  moment  she  lay  still.  Then  she 
went  to  the  window.  She  heard  the  sharp  rain,  and  the  deep 
running  of  water.  She  knew  her  husband  was  outside. 

"Fred,"  she  called,  "Fred!" 

Away  in  the  night  was  a  hoarse,  brutal  roar  of  a  mass  of 
water  rushing  downwards. 

She  went  downstairs.  She  could  not  understand  the  multi- 
plied running  of  water.  Stepping  down  the  step  into  the 


232  THE  RAINBOW 

kitchen,  she  put  her  foot  into  water.  The  kitchen  wa? 
flooded.  Where  did  it  come  from?  She  could  not  under- 
stand. 

Water  was  running  in  out  of  the  scullery.  She  paddled 
through  barefoot,  to  see.  Water  was  bubbling  fiercely  under 
the  outer  door.  She  was  afraid.  Then  something  washed 
against  her,  something  twined  under  her  foot.  It  was  the 
riding  whip.  On  the  table  were  the  rug  and  the  cushion  and 
the  parcel  from  the  gig. 

He  had  come  home. 

"  Tom ! "  she  Called,  afraid  of  her  own  voice. 

She  opened  the  door.  Water  ran  in  with  a  horrid  sound. 
Everywhere  was  moving  water,  a  sound  of  waters. 

"  Tom !  "  she  cried,  standing  in  her  nightdress  with  the 
candle,  calling  into  the  darkness  and  the  flood  out  of  the 
doorway. 

"  Tom  !     Tom !  " 

And  she  listened.  Fred  appeared  behind  her,  in  trousers 
and  shirt. 

"Where  is  he?  "he  asked. 

He  looked  at  the  flood,  then  at  his  mother.  She  seemed 
small  and  uncanny,  elvish,  in  her  nightdress. 

"  Go  upstairs,"  he  said.     «  He'll  be  in  th'  stable." 

"  To-om !  To-om !  "  cried  the  elderly  woman,  with  a  long, 
unnatural,  penetrating  call  that  chilled  her  son  to  the  mar- 
row. He  quickly  pulled  on  his  boots  and  his  coat. 

"  Go  upstairs,  mother,"  he  said ;  "  I'll  go  an'  see  where  he 
is." 

"  To — om !  To — o — om !  "  rang  out  the  shrill,  unearthly 
cry  of  the  small  woman.  There  was  only  the  noise  of  water 
and  the  mooing  of  uneasy  cattle,  and  the  long  yelping  of  the 
dog,  clamouring  in  the  darkness. 

Fred  Brangwen  splashed  out  into  the  flood  with  a  lantern. 
His  mother  stood  on  a  chair  in  the  doorway,  watching  him 
go.  It  was  all  water,  water,  running,  flashing  under  the  lan- 
tern. 

"Tom!  Tom!  To — o — om!"  came  her  long,  unnatural 
cry,  ringing  over  the  night.  It  made  her  son  feel  cold  in  his 
soul. 

And  the  unconscious,  drowning  body  of  the  father  rolled 
on  below  the  house,  driven  by  the  black  water  towards  the 
high-road. 

Tilly  appeared,  a  skirt  over  her  nightdress.     She  saw  her 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  233 

mistress  clinging  on  the  top  of  a  chair  in  the  open  doorway, 
a  candle  burning  on  the  table. 

"  God's  sake !  "  cried  the  old  serving-woman.  "  The  cut's 
burst.  That  embankment's  broke  down.  Whativer  are  we 
goin'  to  do !  " 

Mrs.  Brangwen  watched  her  son,  and  the  lantern,  go  along 
the  upper  causeway  to  the  stable.  Then  she  saw  the  dark 
figure  of  a  horse :  then  her  son  hung  the  lamp  in  the  stable, 
and  the  light  shone  out  faintly  on  him  as  he  untackled  the 
mare.  The  mother  saw  the  soft  blazed  face  of  the  horse 
thrust  forward  into  the  stable-door.  The  stables  were  still 
above  the  flood.  But  the  water  flowed  strongly  into  the 
house. 

"It's  getting  higher,"  said  Tilly.  "Hasn't  master  come 
in?" 

Mrs.  Brangwen  did  not  hear. 

"  Isn't  he  the — ere  ?  "  she  called,  in  her  far-reaching,  terri- 
fying voice. 

f{  No,"  came  the  short  answer  out  of  the  night. 

"  Go  and  loo-ok  for  him." 

His  mother's  voice  nearly  drove  the  youth  mad. 

He  put  the  halter  on  the  horse  and  shut  the  stable  door. 
He  came  splashing  back  through  the  water,  the  lantern  swing- 
ing. 

The  unconscious,  drowning  body  was  pushed  past  the  house 
in  the  deepest  current.  Fred  Brangwen  came  to  his  mother. 

"  I'll  go  to  th'  cart-shed,"  he  said. 

"  To-om,  To-o-om ! "  rang  out  the  strong,  inhuman  cry. 
Fred  Brangwen's  blood  froze,  his  heart  was  very  angry.  He 
gripped  his  veins  in  a  frenzy.  Why  was  she  yelling  like  this  ? 
He  could  not  bear  the  sight  of  her,  perched  on  a  chair  in  her 
white  nightdress  in  the  doorway,  elvish  and  horrible. 

"He's  taken  the  mare  out  of  the  trap,  so  he's  all  right," 
he  said,  growling,  pretending  to  be  normal. 

But  as  he  descended  to  the  cart-shed,  he  sank  into  a  foot 
of  water.  He  heard  the  rushing  in  the  distance,  he  knew 
the  canal  had  broken  down.  The  water  was  running  deeper. 

The  trap  was  there  all  right,  but  no  signs  of  his  father. 
The  young  man  waded  down  to  the  pond.  The  water  rose 
above  his  knees,  it  swirled  and  forced  him.  He  drew  back. 

"  Is  he  the-e-ere  ?  "  came  the  maddening  cry  of  the  mother. 

"  No,"  was  the  sharp  answer. 

"  To-om  —  To-o-om  !  "  came  the  piercing,  free,  unearthly 


2S4,  THE  RAINBOW 

call.  It  seemed  high  and  supernatural,  almost  pure.  Fred 
Brangwen  hated  it.  It  nearly  drove  him  mad.  So  awfully 
it  sang  out,  almost  like  a  song. 

The  water  was  flowing  fuller  into  the  house. 

"  You'd  better  go  up  to  Beeby's  and  bring  him  and  Arthur 
down,  and  tell  Mrs.  Beeby  to  fetch  Wilkinson,"  said  Fred  to 
Tilly.  He  forced  his  mother  to  go  upstairs. 

"  I  know  your  father  is  drowned,"  she  said,  in  a  curious 
dismay. 

The  flood  rose  through  the  night,  till  it  washed  the  kettle 
off  the  hob  in  the  kitchen.  Mrs.  Brangwen  sat  alone  at  a 
window  upstairs.  She  called  no  more.  The  men  were  busy 
with  the  pigs  and  the  cattle.  They  were  coming  with  a  boat 
for  her. 

Towards  morning  the  rain  ceased,  the  stars  came  out  over 
the  noise  and  the  terrifying  clucking  and  trickling  of  the 
water.  Then  there  was  a  pallor  in  the  east,  the  light  began 
to  come.  In  the  ruddy  light  of  the  dawn  she  saw  the  waters 
spreading  out,  moving  sluggishly,  the  buildings  rising  out  of 
a  waste  of  water.  Birds  began  to  sing,  drowsily,  and  as  if 
slightly  hoarse  with  the  dawn.  It  grew  brighter.  Tip  the 
second  field  was  the  great,  raw  gap  in  the  canal  embankment. 

Mrs.  Brangwen  went  from  window  to  window,  watching 
the  flood.  Somebody  had  brought  a  little  boat.  The  light 
grew  stronger,  the  red  gleam  was  gone  off  the  flood-waters, 
day  took  place.  Mrs.  Brangwen  went  from  the  front  of  the 
house  to  the  back,  looking  out,  intent  and  unrelaxing,  on  the 
pallid  morning  of  spring. 

She  saw  a  glimpse  of  her  husband's  buff  coat  in  the  floods, 
as  the  water  rolled  the  body  against  the  garden  hedge.  She 
called  to  the  men  in  the  boat.  She  was  glad  he  was  found. 
They  dragged  him  out  of  the  hedge.  They  could  not  lift 
him  into  the  boat.  Fred  Brangwen  jumped  into  the  water, 
up  to  his  waist,  and  half  carried  the  body  of  his  father  through 
the  flood  to  the  road.  Hay  and  twigs  and  dirt  were  in  the 
beard  and  hair.  The  youth  pushed  through  the  water  crying 
loudly  without  tears,  like  a  stricken  animal.  The  mother  at 
the  window  cried,  making  no  trouble. 

The  doctor  came.  But  the  body  was  dead.  They  carried 
it  up  to  Cossethay,  to  Anna's  house. 

When  Anna  Brangwen  heard  the  news,  she  pressed  back 
her  head  and  rolled  her  eyes,  as  if  something  were  reaching 
forward  to  bite  at  her  throat.  She  pressed  back  her  head, 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  235 

her  mind  was  driven  back  to  sleep.  Since  she  had  married 
and  become  a  mother,  the  girl  she  had  been  was  forgotten. 
Now,  the  shock  threatened  to  break  in  upon  her  and  sweep 
away  all  her  intervening  life,  make  her  as  a  girl  of  eighteen 
again,  loving  her  father.  So  she  pressed  back,  away  from 
the  shock,  she  clung  to  her  present  life. 

It  was  when  they  brought  him  to  her  house  dead  and  in 
his  wet  clothes,  his  wet,  sodden  clothes,  fully  dressed  as  he 
came  from  market,  yet  all  sodden  and  inert,  that  the  shock 
really  broke  into  her,  and  she  was  terrified.  A  big,  soaked, 
inert  heap,  he  was,  who  had  been  to  her  the  image  of  power 
and  strong  life. 

Almost  in  horror,  she  began  to  take  the  wet  things  from 
him,  to  pull  off  him  the  incongruous  market-clothes  of  a  well- 
to-do  farmer.  The  children  were  sent  away  to  the  Vicarage, 
the  dead  body  lay  on  the  parlour  floor,  Anna  quickly  began 
to  undress  him,  laid  his  fob  and  seals  in  a  wet  heap  on  the 
table.  Her  husband  and  the  woman  helped  her.  They 
cleared  and  washed  the  body,  and  laid  it  on  the  bed. 

There,  it  looked  still  and  grand.  He  was  perfectly  calm 
in  death,  and,  now  he  was  laid  in  line,  inviolable,  unapproach- 
able. To  Anna,  he  was  the  majesty  of  the  inaccessible  male, 
the  majesty  of  death.  It  made  her  still  and  awe-stricken, 
almost  glad. 

Lydia  Brangwen,  the  mother,  also  came  and  saw  the  im- 
pressive, inviolable  body  of  the  dead  man.  She  went  pale, 
seeing  death.  He  was  beyond  change  or  knowledge,  absolute, 
laid  in  line  with  the  infinite.  What  had  she  to  do  with  him  ? 
He  was  a  majestic  Abstraction,  made  visible  now  for  a  mo« 
ment,  inviolate,  absolute.  And  who  could  lay  claim  to  him, 
who  could  speak  of  him,  of  the  him  who  was  revealed  in  the 
stripped  moment  of  transit  from  life  into  death?  Neither 
the  living  nor  the  dead  could  claim  him,  he  was  both  the  one 
and  the  other,  inviolable,  inaccessibly  himself. 

"  I  shared  life  with  you,  I  belong  in  my  own  way  to  eter- 
nity," said  Lydia  Brangwen,  her  heart  cold,  knowing  her  own 
singleness. 

"  I  did  not  know  you  in  life.  You  are  beyond  me,  supreme 
now  in  death,"  said  Anna  Brangwen,  awe-stricken,  almost 
glad. 

It  was  the  sons  who  could  not  bear  it.  Fred  Brangwen 
went  about  with  a  set,  blanched  face  and  shut  hands,  his  heart 
full  of  hatred  and  rage  for  what  had  been  done  to  his  father, 


236  THE  RAINBOW 

bleeding  also  with  desire  to  have  his  father  again,  to  see  him, 
to  hear  him  again.     He  could  not  bear  it. 

Tom  Brangwen  only  arrived  on  the  day  of  the  funeral. 
He  was  quiet  and  controlled  as  ever.  He  kissed  his  mother, 
who  was  still  dark-faced,  inscrutable,  he  shook  hands  with 
his  brother  without  looking  at  him,  he  saw  the  great  coffin 
with  its  black  handles.  He  even  read  the  name-plate,  "  Tom 
Brangwen,  of  the  Marsh  Farm.  Born .  Died ." 

The  good-looking,  still  face  of  the  young  man  crinkled  up 
for  a  moment  in  a  terrible  grimace,  then  resumed  its  stillness. 
The  coffin  was  carried  round  to  the  church,  the  funeral  bell 
tanged  at  intervals,  the  mourners  carried  their  wreaths  of 
white  flowers.  The  mother,  the  Polish  woman,  went  with 
dark,  abstract  face,  on  her  son's  arm.  He  was  good-looking 
as  ever,  his  face  perfectly  motionless  and  somehow  pleasant. 
Fred  walked  with  Anna,  she  strange  and  winsome,  he  with  a 
face  like  wood,  stiff,  unyielding. 

Only  afterwards  Ursula,  flitting  between  the  currant  bushes 
down  the  garden,  saw  her  Uncle  Tom  standing  in  his  black 
clothes,  erect  and  fashionable,  but  his  fists  lifted,  and  his 
face  distorted,  his  lips  curled  back  from  his  teeth  in  a  horrible 
grin,  like  an  animal  which  grimaces  with  torment,  whilst  his 
body  panted  quick,  like  a  panting  dog's.  He  was  facing  the 
open  distance,  panting,  and  holding  still,  then  panting  rapidly 
again,  but  his  face  never  changing  from  its  almost  bestial  look 
of  torture,  the  teeth  all  showing,  the  nose  wrinkled  up,  the 
eyes  unseeing,  fixed. 

Terrified,  Ursula  slipped  away.  And  when  her  Uncle  Tom 
was  in  the  house  again,  grave  and  very  quiet,  so  that  he 
seemed  almost  to  affect  gravity,  to  pretend  grief,  she  watched 
his  still,  handsome  face,  imagining  it  again  in  its  distortion. 
But  she  saw  the  nose  was  rather  thick,  rather  Russian,  under 
its  transparent  skin,  she  remembered  the  teeth  under  the  care- 
fully cut  moustache  were  small  and  sharp  and  spaced.  She 
could  see  him,  in  all  his  elegant  demeanour,  bestial, .  almc 
corrupt.  And  she  was  frightened.  She  never  forgot  to  lool 
.for  the  bestial,  frightening  side  of  him,  after  this. 

He  said  "  Good-bye  "  to  his  mother  and  went  away  at  once 
Ursula  almost  shrank  from  his  kiss,  now.  She  wanted  il 
nevertheless,  and  the  little  revulsion  as  well. 

At  the  funeral,  and  after  the  funeral,  Will  Brangwen  was 
madly  in  love  with  his  wife.  The  death  had  shaken  him. 
But  death  and  all  seemed  to  gather  in  him  into  a  mad,  over- 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  237 

whelming  passion  for  his  wife.  She  seemed  so  strange  and 
winsome.  He  was  almost  beside  himself  with  desire  for  her. 

And  she  took  him,  she  seemed  ready  for  him,  she  wanted 
him. 

The  grandmother  stayed  a  while  at  the  Yew  Cottage,  till 
the  Marsh  was  restored.  Then  she  returned  to  her  own  rooms, 
quiet,  and  it  seemed,  wanting  nothing.  Fred  threw  himself 
into  the  work  of  restoring  the  farm.  That  his  father  was 
killed  there,  seemed  to  make  it  only  the  more  intimate  and  the 
more  inevitably  his  own  place. 

There  was  a  ,saying  that  the  Brangwens  always  died  a  vio- 
lent death.  To  them  all,  except  perhaps  Tom,  it  seemed  al- 
most natural.  Yet  Fred  went  about  obstinate,  his  heart  fixed. 
He  could  never  forgive  the  Unknown  this  murder  of  his 
father. 

After  the  death  of  the  father,  the  Marsh  was  very  quiet. 
Mrs.  Brangwen  was  unsettled.  She  could  not  sit  all  the  even- 
ing peacefully,  as  she  could  before,  and  during  the  day  she 
was  always  rising  to  her  feet  and  hesitating,  as  if  she  must 
go  somewhere,  and  were  not  quite  sure  whither. 

She  was  seen  loitering  about  the  garden,  in  her  little 
woollen  jacket.  She  was  often  driven  out  in  the  gig,  sitting 
beside  her  son  and  watching  the  countryside  or  the  streets  of 
the  town,  with  a  childish,  candid,  uncanny  face,  as  if  it  all 
were  strange  to  her. 

The  children,  Ursula  and  Gudrun  and  Theresa  went  by 
the  garden  gate  on  their  way  to  school.  The  grandmother 
would  have  them  call  in  each  time  they  passed,  she  would  have 
them  come  to  the  Marsh  for  dinner.  She  wanted  children 
about  her. 

Of  her  sons,  she  was  almost  afraid.  She  could  see  the 
sombre  passion  and  desire  and  dissatisfaction  in  them,  and 
she  wanted  not  to  see  it  any  more.  Even  Fred,  with  his  blue 
ejes  and  his  heavy  jaw,  troubled  her.  There  was  no  peace. 
He  wanted  something,  he  wanted  love,  passion,  and  he  could 
not  find  them.  But  why  must  he  trouble  her?  Why  must 
he  come  to  her  with  his  seething  and  suffering  and  dissatis- 
factions? She  was  too  old. 

Tom  was  more  restrained,  reserved.  He  kept  his  body  very 
still.  But  he  troubled  her  even  more.  She  could  not  but  see 
the  black  depths  of  disintegration  in  his  eyes,  the  sudden 
glance  upon  her5  as  if  she  could  save  him,  as  if  he  would  reveal 
himself. 


238 


THE  RAINBOW 


And  how  could  age  save  youth?    Youth  must  go  to  youtl 
Always  the  storm!     Could  she  not  lie  in  peace,  these  years 
in  the  quiet,  apart  from  life?     No,  always  the  swell  must 
heave  upon  her  and  break  against  the  barriers.     Always  she 
must  be  embroiled  in  the  seethe  and  rage  and  passion,  end- 
less, endless,  going  on  for  ever.     And  she  wanted  to  drai 
away.     She  wanted   at  last  her   own  innocence   and  peac 
She  did  not  want  her  sons  to  force  upon  her  any  more  th< 
old  brutal  story  of  desire  and  offerings  and  deep,  deep-hiddei 
rage  of  unsatisfied  men  against  women.     She  wanted  to 
beyond  it  all,  to  know  the  peace  and  innocence  of  age. 

She  had  never  been  a  woman  to  work  much.  So  that 
she  would  stand  often  at  the  garden-gate,  watching  the  scani 
world  go  by.  And  the  sight  of  children  pleased  her,  made 
hers  happy.  She  had  usually  an  apple  or  a  few  sweets  in  h( 
pocket.  She  liked  children  to  smile  at  her. 

She  never  went  to  her  husband's  grave.  She  spoke  of  hii 
simply,  as  if  he  were  alive.  Sometimes  the  tears  would  rui 
down  her  face,  in  helpless  sadness.  Then  she  recovered,  an( 
was  herself  again,  happy. 

On  wet  days,  she  stayed  in  bed.  Her  bedroom  was  hei 
city  of  refuge,  where  she  could  lie  down  and  muse  and  muse. 
Sometimes  Fred  would  read  to  her.  But  that  did  not  meai 
much.  She  had  so  many  dreams  to  dream  over,  such  an  un- 
sifted store.  She  wanted  time. 

Her  chief  friend  at  this  period  was  Ursula.  The  little 
girl  and  the  musing,  fragile  woman  of  sixty  seemed  to  under- 
stand the  same  language.  At  Cossethay  all  was, activity  an( 
passion,  everything  moved  upon  poles  of  passion.  Then  then 
were  four  children  younger  than  Ursula,  a  throng  of  babies, 
all  the  time  many  lives  beating  against  each  other. 

So  that  for  the  eldest  child,  the  peace  of  the  grandmother's 
bedroom  was  exquisite.  Here  Ursula  came  as  to  a  hushec 
paradisal  land,  here  her  own  existence  became  simple  and  ex- 
quisite to  her  as  if  she  were  a  flower. 

Always  on  Saturdays  she  came  down  to  the  Marsh,  anc 
always  clutching  a  little  offering,  either  a  little  mat  mad( 
of  strips  of  coloured,  woven  paper,  or  a  tiny  basket  made  ii 
the  kindergarten  lesson,  or  a  little  crayon  drawing  of  a  bii  ' 

When  she  appeared  in  the  doorway,  Tilly,  ancient  but  stil 
m  authority,  would  crane  her  skinny  neck  to  see  who  it  was 

"  Oh,  it's  you,  is  it  ?  "  she  said.     "  I  thought  we  should  " 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  239 

seein'  you.  My  word,  that's  a  bobby-dazzlin'  posy  you've 
brought ! " 

It  was  curious  how  Tilly  preserved  the  spirit  of  Tom  Brang- 
wen/who  was  dead,  in  the  Marsh.  Ursula  always  connected 
her  with  her  grandfather. 

This  day  the  child  had  brought  a  tight  little  nosegay  of 
pinks,  white  ones,  with  a  rim  of  pink  ones.  She  was  very 
proud  of  it,  and  very  shy  because  of  her  pride. 

"  Your  gran'mother's  in  her  bed.  Wipe  your  shoes  well  if 
you're  goin'  up,  and  don't  go  burstin'  in  on  her  like  a  sky- 
rocket. My  word,  but  that's  a  fine  posy!  Did  you  do  it  all 
by  yourself,  an'  all  ?  " 

Tilly  stealthily  ushered  her  into  the  bedroom.  The  child 
entered  with  a  strange,  dragging  hesitation  characteristic  of 
her  when  she  was  moved.  Her  grandmother  was  sitting  up 
in  bed,  wearing  a  little  grey  woollen  jacket. 

The  child  hesitated  in  silence  near  the  bed,  clutching  tho 
nosegay  in  front  of  her.  Her  childish  eyes  were  shining. 
The  grandmother's  grey  eyes  shone  with  a  similar  light. 

"  How  pretty !  "  she  said.  "  How  pretty  you  have  made 
them !  What  a  darling  little  bunch." 

Ursula,  glowing,  thrust  them  into  her  grandmother's  hand, 
saying,  "  I  made  them  you." 

"  That  is  how  the  peasants  tied  them  at  home,"  said  the 
grandmother,  pushing  the  pinks  with  her  fingers,  and  smell- 
ing them.  "  Just  such  tight  little  bunches !  And  they  make 
wreaths  for  their  hair  —  they  weave  the  stalks.  Then  they 
go  round  with  wreaths  in  their  hair,  and  wearing  their  best 
aprons." 

Ursula  immediately  imagined  herself  in  this  story-land. 

"Did  you  used  to  have  a  wreath  in  your  hair,  grand- 
mother ?  " 

"When  I  was  a  little  girl,  I  had  golden  hair,  something 
like  Katie's.  Then  I  used  to  have  a  wreath  of  little  blue 
flowers,  oh,  so  blue,  that  come  when  the  snow  is  gone.  Andrey, 
the  coachman,  used  to  bring  me  the  very  first." 

They  talked,  and  then  Tilly  brought  the  tea-tray,  set  for 
two.  Ursula  had  a  special  green  and  gold  cup  kept  for  her- 
self at  the  Marsh.  There  was  thin  bread  and  butter,  and  cress 
for  tea.  It  was  all  special  and  wonderful.  She  ate  very 
daintily,  with  little  fastidious  bites. 

"Why  do  you  have  two  wedding-rings,  grandmother?  — 


240  THE  RAINBOW 

Must  you  ?  "  asked  the  child,  noticing  her  grandmother's  ivory 
coloured  hand  with  blue  veins,  above  the  tray. 

"  If  I  had  two  husbands,  child." 

Ursula  pondered  a  moment. 

"  Then  you  must  wear  both  rings  together  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Which  was  my  grandfather's  ring  ?  " 

The  woman  hesitated. 

"This  grandfather  whom  you  knew?  This  was  his  ring, 
the  red  one.  The  yellow  one  was  your  other  grandfather's 
whom  you  never  knew." 

Ursula  looked  interestedly  at  the  two  rings  on  the  proffered 
finger. 

"  Where  did  he  buy  it  you  ?  "  she  asked. 

"This  one?     In  Warsaw,  I  think." 

"You  didn't  know  my  own  grandfather  then?" 

"  Not  this  grandfather." 

Ursula  pondered  this  fascinating  intelligence. 

"Did  he  have  white  whiskers,  as  well?" 

"  No,  his  beard  was  dark.     You  have  his  brows,  I  -think." 

Ursula  ceased  and  became  self-conscious.  She  at  once 
identified  herself  with  her  Polish  grandfather. 

"  And  did  he  have  brown  eyes  ?  " 

"  Yes,  dark  eyes.  He  was  a  clever  man,  as  quick  as  a  lion. 
He  was  never  still." 

Lydia  still  resented  Lensky.  When  she  thought  of  him, 
she  was  always  younger  than  he,  she  was  always  twenty,  or 
twenty-five,  and  under  his  domination.  He  incorporated  her 
in  his  ideas  as  if  she  were  not  a  person  herself,  as  if  she  were 
just  his  aide-de-camp,  or  part  of  his  baggage,  or  one  among 
his  surgical  appliances.  She  still  resented  it.  And  he  was 
always  only  thirty :  he  had  died  when  he  was  thirty-four.  She 
did  not  feel  sorry  for  him.  He  was  older  than  she.  Yet  she 
still  ached  in  the  thought  of  those  days. 

"  Did  you  like  my  first  grandfather  best  ?  "  asked  Ursulj 

"  I  liked  them  both,"  said  the  grandmother. 

And,  thinking,  she  became  again  Lensky's  girl-bride.  H( 
was  of  good  family,  of  better  family  even  than  her  own,  foi 
she  was  half  German.  She  was  a  young  girl  in  a  house  oi 
insecure  fortune.  And  he,  an  intellectual,  a  clever  surgeoi 
and  physician,  had  loved  her.  How  she  had  looked  up  t( 
him !  She  remembered  her  first  transports  when  he  talk* 
to  her,  the  important  young  man  with  the  severe  black  beai 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD 

He  had  seemed  so  wonderful,  such  an  authority.  After  her 
own  lax  household,  his  gravity  and  confident,  hard  authority 
seemed  almost  God-like  to  her.  For  she  had  never  known  it 
in  her  life,  all  her  surroundings  had  been  loose,  lax,  disor- 
dered, a  welter. 

"  Miss  Lydia,  will  you  marry  me  ?  "  he  had  said  to  her  in 
German,  in  his  grave,  yet  tremulous  voice.  She  had  been 
afraid  of  his  dark  eyes  upon  her.  They  did  not  see  her,  they 
were  fixed  upon  her.  And  he  was  hard,  confident.  She 
thrilled  with  the  excitement  of  it,  and  accepted.  During  the 
courtship,  his  kisses  were  a  wonder  to  her.  She  always 
thought  about  them,  and  wondered  over  them.  She  never 
wanted  to  kiss  him  back.  In  her  idea,  the  man  kissed,  and 
the  woman  examined  in  her  soul  the  kisses  she  had  received. 

She  had  never  quite  recovered  from  her  prostration  of  the 
first  days,  or  nights,  of  marriage.  He  had  taken  her  to 
Vienna,  and  she  was  utterly  alone  with  him,  utterly  alone  in 
another  world,  everything,  everything  foreign,  even  he  foreign 
to  her.  Then  came  the  real  marriage,  passion  came  to  her, 
and  she  became  his  slave,  he  was  her  lord,  her  lord.'  She  was 
the  girl-bride,  the  slave,  she  kissed  his  feet,  she  had  thought 
it  an  honour  to  touch  his  body,  to  unfasten  his  boots.  For 
two  years,  she  had  gone  on  as  his  slave,  crouching  at  his  feet, 
embracing  his  knees. 

Children  had  come,  he  had  followed  his  ideas.  She  was 
there  for  him,  just  to  keep  him  in  condition.  She  was  to  him 
one  of  the  baser  or  material  conditions  necessary  for  his  wel- 
fare in  prosecuting  his  ideas,  of  nationalism,  of  liberty, -of 
science. 

But  gradually,  at  twenty-three,  twenty-four,  she  began  to 
realize  that  she  too  might  consider  these  ideas.  By  his  ac- 
ceptance of  her  self-subordination,  he  exhausted  the  feeling  in 
her.  There  were  those  of  his  associates  who  would  discuss 
the  ideas  with  her,  though  he  did  not  wish  to  do  so  himself. 
She  adventured  into  the  minds  of  other  men.  His,  then,  was 
not  the  only  male  mind !  She  did  not  exist,  then,  just  as  his 
attribute !  She  began  to  perceive  the  attention  of  other  men. 
An  excitement  came  over  her.  She  remembered  now  the  men 
who  had  paid  her  court,  when  she  was  married,  in  Warsaw. 

Then  the  rebellion  broke  out,  and  she  was  inspired  too. 
She  would  go  as  a  nurse  at  her  husband's  side.  He  worked 
like  a  lion,  he  wore  his  life  out.  And  she  followed  him  help- 
lessly. But  she  disbelieved  in  him.  He  was  so  separate,  he 


242  THE  RAINBOW 

ignored  so  much.  He  counted  too  much  on  himself.  His 
work,  his  ideas, —  did  nothing  else  matter  ? 

Then  the  children  were  dead,  and  for  her,  everything  be- 
came remote.  He  became  remote.  She  saw  him,  she  saw 
him  go  white  when  he  heard  the  news,  then  frown,  as  if  he 
thought,  "  Why  have  they  died  now,  when  I  have  no  time  to 
grieve  ?  " 

"  He  has  no  time  to  grieve,"  she  had  said,  in  her  remote, 
awful  soul.  "  He  has  no  time.  It  is  so  important,  what  he 
does!  He  is  then  so  self-important,  this  half-frenzied  man! 
Nothing  matters,  but  this  work  of  rebellion !  He  has  not  time 
to  grieve,  nor  to  think  of  his  children !  He  had  not  time  even 
to  beget  them,  really." 

She  had  let  him  go  on  alone.  But,  in  the  chaos,  she  had 
worked  by  his  side  again.  And  out  of  the  chaos,  she  had  fled 
with  him  to  London. 

He  was  a  broken,  cold  man.  He  had  no  affection  for  her, 
nor  for  any  one.  He  had  failed  in  his  work,  so  everything 
had  failed.  He  stiffened, .and  died. 

She  could  not  subscribe.  He  had  failed,  everything  had 
failed,  yet  behind  the  failure  was  the  unyielding  passion  of 
life.  The  individual  effort  might  fail,  but  not  the  human  joy. 
She  belonged  to  the  human  joy. 

He  died  and  went  his  way,  but  not  before  there  was  an- 
other child.  And  this  little  Ursula  was  his  grandchild.  She 
was  glad  of  it,  For  she  still  honoured  him,  though  he  had 
been  mistaken. 

She,  Lydia  Brangwen,  was  sorry  for  him  now.  He  was 
dead  —  lie  had  scarcely  lived.  He  had  never  known  her.  He 
had  lain  with  her,  but  he  had  never  known  her.  He  had 
never  received  what  she  could  give  him.  He  had  gone  away 
from  her  empty.  So,  he  had  never  lived.  So,  he  had  died 
and  passed  away.  Yet  there  had  been  strength  and  power 
in  him. 

She  could  scarcely  forgive  him  that  he  had  never  lived. 
If  it  were  not  for  Anna,  and  for  this  little  Ursula,  who  had 
his  brows,  there  would  be  no  more  left  of  him  than  of  a 
broken  vessel  thrown  away,  and  just  remembered. 

Tom  Brangwen  had  served  her.  He  had  come  to  her,  and 
taken  from  her.  He  had  died  and  gone  his  way  into  death. 
But  he  had  made  himself  immortal  in  his  knowledge  with 
her.  So  she  had  her  place  here,  in  life,  and  in  immortality. 
For  he  had  taken  his  knowledge  of  her  into  death,  so  that  she 


THE  MARSH  AND  THE  FLOOD  243 

had  her  place  in  death.  "  In  my  father's  house  are  manj 
mansions." 

She  loved  both  her  husbands.  To  one  she  had  been  a  naked 
little  girl-bride,  running  to  serve  him.  The  other  she  loved 
out  of  fulfilment,  because  he  was  good  and  had  given  her 
being,  because  he  had  served  her  honourably,  and  become  her 
man,  one  with  her. 

She  was  established  in  this  stretch  of  life,  she  had  come 
to  herself.  During  her  first  marriage,-  she  had  not  existed, 
except  through  him,  he  was  the  substance  and  she  the  shadow 
running  at  his  feet.  She  was  very  glad  she  had  come  to  her 
own  self.  She  was  grateful  to  Brangwen.  She  reached  out 
to  him  in  gratitude,  into  death. 

In  her  heart  she  felt  a  vague  tenderness  and  pity  for  her 
first  husband,  who  had  been  her  lord.  He  was  so  wrong 
when  he  died.  She  could  not  bear  it,  that  he  had  never  lived, 
never  really  become  himself.  And  he  had  been  her  lord ! 
Strange,  it  all  had  been!  Why  had  he  been  her  lord?  He 
seemed  now  so  far  off,  so  without  bearing  on  her. 

"Which  did  you,  grandmother?" 

"What?" 

"  Like  best." 

"  I  liked  them  both.  I  married  the  first  when  I  was  quite 
a  girl.  Then  I  loved  you?  grandfather  when  I  was  a  woman. 
There  is  a  difference." 

They  were  silent  for  a  time. 

"  Did  you  cry  when  my  first  grandfather  died  ?  "  the  child 
asked. 

Lydia  Brangwen  rocked  herself  on  the  bed,  thinking  aloud. 

"  When  we  came  to  England,  he  hardly  ever  spoke,  he  was 
too  much  concerned  to,  take  any  notice  of  anybody.  He  grew 
thinner  and  thinner,  till  his  cheeks  were  hollow  and  his  mouth 
stuck  out.  He  wasn't  handsome  any  more.  I  knew  he 
couldn't  bear  being  beaten,  I  thought  everything  was  lost  in 
the  world.  Only  I  had  your  mother  a  baby,  it  was  no  use  my 
dying. 

"  He  looked  at  me  with  his  black  eyes^  almost  as  if  he  hated 
me,  when  he  was  ill,  and  said,  '  It  only  wanted  this.  It  only 
wanted  that  I  should  leave  you  and  a  young  child  to  starve  in 
this  London.'  I  told  him  we  should  not  starve.  But  I  was 
young,  and  foolish,  and  frightened,  which  he  knew. 

"  He  was  bitter,  and  he  never  gave  way.  He  lay  beating 
his  brains,  to  see  what  he  could  do.  '  I  don't  know  what  you 


244  THE  RAINBOW 

will  do,'  he  said.     c  I  am  no  good,  I  am  a  failure  from  begin- 
ning to  end.     I  cannot  even  provide  for  my  wife  and  child ! ' 

"  But  you  see,  it  was  not  for  him  to  provide  for  us.  My 
life  went  on,  though  his  stopped,  and  I  married  your  grand- 
father. 

"  I  ought  to  have  known,  I  ought  to  have  been  able  to  say 
to  him :  (  Don't  be  so  bitter,  don't  die  because  this  has  failed. 
You  are  not  the  beginning  and  the  end/  But  I  was  too 
young,  he  had  never  let  me  become  myself,  I  thought  he  was 
truly  the  beginning  and  the  end.  So  I  let  him  take  all  upon 
himself.  Yet  all  did  not  depend  on  him.  Life  must  go  on, 
and  I  must  marry  your  grandfather,  and  have  your  Uncle 
Tom,  and  your  Uncle  Fred.  We  cannot  take  so  much  upon 
ourselves." 

The  child's  heart  beat  fast  as  she  listened  to  these  things. 
She  could  not  understand,  but  she  seemed  to  feel  far-off 
things.  It  gave  her  a  deep,  joyous  thrill,  to  know  she  hailed 
from  far  off,  from  Poland,  and  that  dark-bearded  impressive 
man.  Strange,  her  antecedents  were,  and  she  felt  fate  on 
either  side  of  her  terrible. 

Almost  every  day,  Ursula  saw  her  grandmother,  and  every 
time,  they  talked  together.  Till  the  grandmother's  sayings 
and  stories,  told  in  the  complete  hush  of  the  Marsh  bedroom, 
accumulated  with  mystic  significance,  and  became  a  sort  of 
Bible  to  the  child. 

And  Ursula  asked  her  deepest  childish  questions  of  her 
grandmother. 

"  Will  somebody  love  me,  grandmother  ?  " 

"  Many  people  love  you,  child.     We  all  love  you." 

"  But  when  I  am  grown  up,  will  somebody  love  me  ?  " 

"  Yes,  some  man  will  love  you,  child,  because  it's  your 
nature.  And  I  hope  it  will  be  somebody  who  will  love  you 
for  what  you  are,  and  not  for  what  he  wants  of  you.  But 
we  have  a  right  to  what  we  want." 

Ursula  was  frightened,  hearing  these  things.  Her  heai 
sank,  she  felt  she  had  no  ground  under  her  feet.  She  clunj 
to  her  grandmother:  Here  was  peace  and  security.  Hei 
from  her  grandmother's  peaceful  room,  the  door  opened  on  t( 
the  greater  space,  the  past,  which  was  so  big,  that  all  it 
tained  seemed  tiny;  loves  and  births  and  deaths,  tiny  unil 
and  features  within  a  vast  horizon.  That  was  a  great  relief, 
to  know  the  tiny  importance  of  the  individual,  within 
great  past. 


CHAPTER  X 

THE   WIDENING   CIRCLE 

IT  was  very  burdensome  to  Ursula,  that  she  was  the  eldes*. 
of  the  family.     By  the  time  she  was  eleven,  she  had  tc 
take  to  school  Gudrun  and  Theresa  and  Catherine.     The 
boy,  William,  always  called  Billy,  so  that  he  should  not 
be  confused  with  his  father,  was  a  lovable,  rather  delicate 
child  of  three,  so  he  stayed  at  home  as  yet.     There  was  an- 
other baby  girl,  called  Cassandra. 

The  children  went  for  a  time  to  the  little  church  school  just 
near  the  Marsh.  It  was  the  only  place  within  reach,  and 
being  so  small,  Mrs.  Brangwen  felt  safe  in  sending  her  chil- 
dren there,  though  the  village  boys  did  nickname  Ursula 
"  Urtler,"  and  Gudrun  "  Good-runner,"  and  Theresa  "  Tea- 
pot." 

Gudrun  and  Ursula  were  co-mates.  The  second  child,  with 
her  long,  sleepy  body  and  her  endless  chain  of  fancies,  would 
have  nothing  to  do  with  realities.  She  was  not  for  them,  she 
was  for  her  own  fancies.  Ursula  was  the  one  for  realities. 
So  Gudrun  left  all  such  to  her  elder  sister,  and  trusted  in  her 
implicitly,  indifferently.  Ursula  had  a  great  tenderness  for 
her  co-mate  sister. 

It  was  no  good  trying  to  make  Gudrun  responsible.  She 
floated  along  like  a  fish  in  the  sea,  perfect  within  the  medium 
of  her  own  difference  and  being.  Other  existence  did  not 
trouble  her.  Only  she  believed  in  Ursula,  and  trusted  to 
Ursula. 

The  eldest  child  was  very  much  fretted  by  her  responsibility 
for  the  other  young  ones.  Especially  Theresa,  a  sturdy,  bold' 
eyed  thing,  had  a  faculty  for  warfare. 

"  Our  Ursula,  Billy  Pillins  has  lugged  my  hair." 

"  What  did  you  say  to  him  ?  " 

"  I  said  nothing." 

Then  the  Brangwen  girls  were  in  for  a  feud  with  the  Pil- 
linses,  or  Phillipses. 

You  won't  pull  my  hair  again,  Billy  Pillins,"  said  The- 
245 


246  THE  RAINBOW 

resa,  walking  with  her  sisters,  and  looking  superbly  at  the 
freckled,  red-haired  boy. 

"  Why  shan't  I  ?  "  retorted  Billy  Pillins. 

"You.  won't  because  you  dursn't,"  said  the  tiresome  The- 
resa. 

"  You  come  here  then,  Tea-pot,  an'  see  if  I  dursna." 

Up  marched  Tea-pot,  and  immediately  Billy  Pillins  lugged 
her  black,  snaky  locks.     In  a  rage  she  flew  at  him.     Imme-  < 
diately  in  rushed  Ursula  and  Gudrun,  and  little  Katie,  in 
clashed  the  other  Phillipses,   Clem  and  Walter,  and  Eddie 
Anthony.     Then  there  was  a  fray.     The  Brangwen  girls  were 
well-grown  and  stronger  than  many  boys.     But  for  pinafores 
and  long  hair,  they  would  have  carried  easy  victories.     They 
went  home,  however,  with  hair  lugged  and  pinafores  torn. 
It  was  a  joy  to  the  Phillips  boys  to  rip  the  pinafores  of  the  I 
Brangwen  girls. 

Then  there  was  an  outcry.     Mrs.  Brangwen  would  not  have  1 
it;  no,  she  would  not.     All  her  innate  dignity  and  stand-    ; 
offishness  rose  up.     Then  there  was  the  vicar  lecturing  the   \ 
school.     "  It  was  a  sad  thing  that  the  boys  of  Cossethay  could 
not  behave  more  like  gentlemen  to  the  girls  of  Cossethay. 
Indeed,  what  kind  of  boy  was  it  that  should  set  upon  a  girl, 
and  kick  her,  and  beat  her,  and  tear  her  pinafore?     That 
boy  deserved  severe  castigation,  and  the  name  of  coward,  for    ; 
no  boy  who  was  not  a  coward  —  etc.,  etc." 

Meanwhile  much  hang-dog  fury  in  the  Pillinses'  hearts, 
much  virtue  in  the  Brangwen  girls',  particularly  in  Theresa's.  ' 
And  the  feud  continued,  with  periods  of  extraordinary  amity, 
when  Ursula  was  Clem  Phillips's  sweetheart,  and  Gudrun  was 
Walter's,  and  Theresa  was  Billy's,  and  even  the  tiny  Katie 
had  to  be  Eddie  Ant'ny's  sweetheart.  There  was  the  closest 
union.  At  every  possible  moment  the  little  gang  of  Brang- 
wens  and  Phillipses  flew  together.  Yet  neither  Ursula  nor 
Gudrun  could  have  any  real  intimacy  with  the  Phillips  boys. 
It  was  a  sort  of  fiction  to  them,  this  alliance  and  this  dubbing 
of  sweethearts. 

Again  Mrs.  Brangwen  rose  up. 

"  Ursula,  I  will  not  have  you  raking  the  roads  with  lads, 
I  tell  you.     Now  stop  it,  and  the  rest  will  stop  it." 

How  Ursula  hated  always  to  represent  the  little  Brangwen 
club.  She  could  never  be  herself,  no,  she  was  always  Ursula- 
Gudrun-Theresa-Catherine  —  and  later  even  Billy  was  added 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  247 

on  to  her.  Moreover,  she  did  not  want  the  Phillipses  either. 
She  was  out  of  taste  with  them. 

However,  the  Brangwen-Pillins  coalition  readily  broke 
down,  owing  to  the  unfair  superiority  of  the  Brangwens.  The 
Brangwens  were  rich.  They  had  free  access  to  the  Marsh 
Farm.  The  school  teachers  were  almost  respectful  to  the 
girls,  the  vicar  spoke  to  them  on  equal  terms.  The  Brangwen 
girls  presumed,  they  tossed  their  heads. 

"  You're  not  ivrybody,  Urtler  Brangwin,  ugly-mug,"  said 
Clem  Phillips,  his  face  going  very  red. 

"  I'm  better  than  you,  for  all  that/'  retorted  Urtler. 

"  You  think  you  are  —  wi'  a  face  like  that  —  Ugly  Mug, — 
Urtler  Brangwin,"  he  began  to  jeer,  trying  to  set  all  the  others 
in  cry  against  her.  Then  there  was  hostility  again.  How 
she  hated  their  jeering.  She  became  cold  against  the  Phil- 
lipses. Ursula  was  very  proud  in  her  family.  The  Brang- 
wen girls  had  all  a  curious  blind  dignity,  even  a  kind  of  nobil- 
ity in  their  bearing.  By  some  result  of  breed  and  upbringing, 
they  seemed  to  rush  along  their  own  lives  without  caring  that 
they  existed  to  other  people.  Never  from  the  start  did  it 
occur  to  Ursula  that  other  people  might  hold  a  low  opinion  of 
her.  She  thought  that  whosoever  knew  her,  knew  she  was 
enough  and  accepted  her  as  such.  She  thought  it  was  a  world 
of  people  like  herself.  She  suffered  bitterly  if  she  were  forced 
to  have  a  low  opinion  of  any  person,  and  she  never  forgave 
that  pers  n. 

This  was  maddening  to  many  little  people.  All  their  lives, 
the  Brangwens  were  meeting  folk  who  tried  to  pull  them  down 
to  make  them  seem  little.  Curiously,  the  mother  was  aware 
of  what  would  happen,  and  was  always  ready  to  give  her  chil- 
dren the  advantage  of  the  move. 

When  Ursula  was  twelve,  and  the  common  school  and  the 
companionship  of  the  village  children,  niggardly  and  begrudg- 
ing, was  beginning  to  affect  her,  Anna  sent  her  with  Gudrun 
to  the  Grammar  School  in  Nottingham.  This  was  a  great  re- 
lease for  Ursula.  She  had  a  passionate  craving  to  escape  from 
the  belittling  circumstances  of  life,  the  little  jealousies,  the 
little  differences,  the  little  meannesses.  It  was  a  torture  to 
her  that  the  Phillipses  were  poorer  and  meaner  than  herself r 
that  they  used  mean  little  reservations,  took  petty  little  advan- 
tages. She  wanted  to  be  with  her  equals :  but  not  by  diminish- 
ing herself.  She  did  want  Clem  Phillips  to  be  her  equal. 


248  THE  RAINBOW 

But  by  some  puzzling,  painful  fate  or  other,  when  he  was 
really  there  with  her,  he  produced  in  her  a  tight  feeling  in 
the  head.  She  wanted  to  beat  her  forehead,  to  escape. 

Then  she  found  that  the  way  to  escape  was  easy.  One 
departed  from  the  whole  circumstance.  One  went  away  to 
the  Grammar  School,  and  left  the  little  school,  the  meagre 
teachers,  the  Phillipses  whom  she  had  tried  to  love  but  who 
had  made  her  fail,  and  whom  she  could  not  forgive.  She  had 
an  instinctive  fear  of  petty  people,  as  a  deer  is  afraid  of  dogs. 
Because  she  was  blind,  she  could  not  calculate  nor  estimate 
people.  She  must  think  that  everybody  was  just  like  herself. 

She  measured  by  the  standard  of  her  own  people :  her  father 
and  mother,  her  grandmother,  her  uncles.  Her  beloved  father, 
so  utterly  simple  in  his  demeanour,  yet  with  his  strong,  dark 
soul  fixed  like  a  root  in  unexpressed  depths  that  fascinated  and 
terrified  her :  her  mother,  so  strangely  free  of  all  money  and 
convention  and  fear,  entirely  indifferent  to  the  world,  standing 
by  herself,  without  connection:  her  grandmother,  who  had 
come  from  so  far  and  was  centred  in  so  wide  an  horizon :  peo- 
ple must  come  up  to  these  standards  before  they  could  be 
Ursula's  people. 

So  even  as  a  girl  of  twelve  she  was  glad  to  burst  the  narrow 
boundary  of  Cossethay,  where  only  limited  people  lived.  Out- 
side, was  all  vastness,  and  a  throng  of  real,  proud  people  whom 
she  would  love. 

Going  to  school  by  train,  she  must  leave  home  at  a  quarter 
to  eight  in  the  morning,  and  she  did  not  arrive  again  till  half- 
past  five  at  evening.  Of  this  she  was  glad,  for  the  house  was 
small  and  overful.  It  was  a  storm  of  movement,  whence  there 
had  been  no  escape.  She  hated  so  much  being  in  charge. 

The  house  was  a  storm  of  movement.  The  children  were 
healthy  and  turbulent,  the  mother  only  wanted  their  animal 
well-being.  To  Ursula,  as  she  grew  a  little  older,  it  became 
a  nightmare.  When  she  saw,  later,  a  Eubens  picture  with 
storms  of  naked  babies,  and  found  this  was  called  "  Fecund- 
ity," she  shuddered,  and  the  world  became  abhorrent  to  her. 
She  knew  as  a  child  what  it  was  to  live  amidst  storms  of 
babies,  in  the  heat  and  swelter  of  fecundity.  And  as  a  child, 
she  was  against  her  mother,  passionately  against  her  mother, 
she  craved  for  some  spirituality  and  stateliness. 

In  bad  weather,  home  was  a  bedlam.  Children  dashed  ii 
and  out  of  the  rain,  to  the  puddles  under  the  dismal  yew-trees, 
across  the  wet  flagstones  of  the  kitchen,  whilst  the  cleaning- 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  249 

woman  grumbled  and  scolded ;  children  were  swarming  pn  the 
sofa,  children  were  kicking  the  piano  in  the  parlour,  to  make 
it  sound  like  a  beehive,  children  were  rolling  on  the  hearthrug, 
legs  in  air,  pulling  a  book  in  two  between  them,  children, 
fiendish,  ubiquitous,  were  stealing  upstairs  to  find  out  where 
our  Ursula  was,  whispering  at  bedroom  doors,  hanging  on  the 
latch,  calling  mysteriously,  "  Ursula !  Ursula !  "  to  the  girl 
who  had  locked  herself  in  to  read.  And  it  was  hopeless.  The 
locked  door  excited  their  sense  of  mystery,  she  had  to  open  to 
dispel  the  lure.  These  children  hung  on  to  her  with  round- 
eyed,  excited  questions. 

The  mother  flourished  amid  all  this. 

"  Better  have  them  noisy  than  ill,"  she  said. 

But  the  growing  girls,  in  turn,  suffered  bitterly.  Ursula 
was  just  coming  to  the  stage  when  Andersen  and  Grimm  were 
being  left  behind  for  the  "  Idylls  of  the  King  "  and  romantic 
love-stories. 

"  Elaine  the  fair,  Elaine  the  lovable, 
Elaine  the  lily  maid  of  Astolat, 
High  in  her  chamber  in  a  tower  to  the  east 
Guarded  the  sacred  shield  of  Launcelot." 

How  she  loved  it !  How  she  leaned  in  her  bedroom  window 
with  her  black,  rough  hair  on  her  shoulders,  and  her  warm 
face  all  rapt,  and  gazed  across  at  the  churchyard  and  the  little 
church,  which  was  a  turretted  castle,  whence  Launcelot  would 
ride  just  now,  would  wave  to  her  as  he  rode  by,  his  scarlet 
.cloak  passing  behind  the  dark  yew-trees  and  between  the  open 
space :  whilst  she,  ah,  she,  would  remain  the  lonely  maid  high 
up  and  isolated  in  the  tower,  polishing  the  terrible  shield, 
weaving  it  a  covering  with  a  true  device,  and  waiting,  waiting, 
always  remote  and  high. 

At  which  point  there  would  be  a  faint  scuffle  on  the  stairs 
a  light-pitched  whispering  outside  the  door,  and  a  creaking 
of  the  latch:  then  Billy,  excited,  whispering: 

"It's  locked  — if  slocked." 

Then  the  knocking,  kicking  at  the  door  with  childish  knees, 
and  the  urgent,  childish : 

"  Ursula  —  our  Ursula  ?    Ursula  ?     Eh,  our  Ursula.  ?  " 

No  reply. 

"  Ursula !  Eh  —  our  Ursula  ?  "  the  name  was  shouted  now. 
Still  no  answer. 

"  Mother, 'she  won't  answer,"  came  the  yell.     "  She's  .dead." 


250  THE  RAINBOW 

"  Go  away  —  I'm  not  dead.  "What  do  you  want  ?  "  came  the 
angry  voice  of  the  girl. 

"  Open  the  door,  our  Ursula/'  came  the  complaining  cry. 
It  was  all  over.  She  must  open  the  door.  She  heard  the 
screech  of  the  bucket  downstairs  dragged  across  the  flagstones 
as  the  woman  washed  the  kitchen  floor.  And  the  children 
were  prowling  in  the  bedroom,  asking : 

"  What  were  you  doing  ?  What  had  you  locked  the  door 
for?"  Then  she  discovered  the  key  of  the  parish  room,  and 
betook  herself  there,  and  sat  on  some  sacks  with  her  books. 
There  began  another  dream. 

She  was  the  only  daughter  of  the  old  lord,  she  was  gifted 
with  magic.  Day  followed  day  of  rapt  silence,  whilst  she  wan- 
dered ghostlike  in  the  hushed,  ancient  mansion,  or  flitted 
along  the  sleeping  terraces. 

Here  a  grave  grief  attacked  her:  that  her  hair  was  dark. 
She  must  have  fair  hair  and  a  white  skin.  She  was  rather 
bitter  about  her  black  mane. 

Never  mind,  she  would  dye  it  when  she  grew  up,  or  bleach 
it  in  the  sun,  till  it  was  bleached  fair.  Meanwhile  she  wore 
a  fair  white  coif  of  pure  Venetian  lace. 

She  flitted  silently  along  the  terraces,  where  jewelled  lizards 
basked  upon  the  stone,  and  did  not  move  when  her  shadow 
fell  upon  them.  In  the  utter  stillness  she  heard  the  tinkle  of 
the  fountain,  and  smelled  the  roses  whose  blossoms  hung  rich 
and  motionless.  So  she  drifted,  drifted  on  the  wistful  feet 
of  beauty,  past  the  water  and  the  swans,  to  the  noble  park, 
where,  underneath  a  great  oak,  a  doe  all  dappled  lay  with  her 
four  fine  feet  together,  her  fawn  nestling  sun-coloured  beside 
her. 

Oh,  and  this  doe  was  her  familiar.  It  would  talk  to  her, 
because  she  was  a  magician,  it  would  tell  her  stories  as  if  the 
sunshine  spoke. 

Then  one  day,  she  left  the  door  of  the  parish  room  un- 
locked, careless  and  unheeding  as  she  always  was ;  the  children 
found  their  way  in,  Katie  cut  her  finger  and  howled,  Billy 
hacked  notches  in  the  fine  chisels,  and  did  much  damage. 
There  was  a  great  commotion. 

The  crossness  of  the*  mother  was  soon  finished.  Ursula 
locked  up  the  room  again,  and  considered  all  was  over.  Then 
her  father  came  in  with  the  notched  tools,  his  forehead 
knotted. 

"  Who  the  deuce  opened  the  door  ?  "  he  cried  in  anger. 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  251 

"  It  was  Ursula  who  opened  the  door/'  said  the  mother. 
He  had  a  duster  in  his  hand.  He  turned  and  flapped  the 
cloth  hard  across  the  girl's  face.  The  cloth  stung,  for  a  mo- 
ment the  girl  was  as  if  stunned.  Then  she  remained  motion- 
less, her  face  closed  and  stubborn.  But  her  heart  was  blazing. 
In  spite  of  herself  the  tears  surged  higher.,  in  spite  of  her  they 
surged  higher. 

In  spite  of  her,  her  face  broke,  she  made  a  curious  gulping 
grimace,  and  the  tears  were  falling.  So  she  went  away,  deso- 
late. But  her  blazing  heart  was  fierce  and  unyielding.  He 
watched  her  go,  and  a  pleasurable  pain  Billed  him,  a  sense  of 
triumph  and  easy  power,  followed  immediately  by  acute  pity. 

"  Fm  sure  that  was  unnecessary  —  to  hit  the  girl  across  the 
face,"  said  the  mother  coldly. 

"  A  flip  with  the  duster  won't  hurt  her,"  he  said. 

"  Nor  will  it  do  her  any  good." 

For  days,  for  weeks,  Ursula's  heart  burned  from  this  rebuff. 
She  felt  so  cruelly  vulnerable.  Did  he  not  know  how  vulner- 
able she  was,  how  exposed  and  wincing?  He,  of  all  people, 
knew.  And  he  wanted  to  do  this  to  her.  He  wanted  to  hurt 
her  right  through  her  closest  sensitiveness,  he  wanted  to  treat 
her  with  shame,  to  maim  her  with  insult. 

Her  heart  burnt  in  isolation,  like  a  watchfire  lighted.  She 
did  not  forget,  she  did  not  forget,  she  never  forgot.  When 
she  returned  to  her  love  for  her  father,  the  seed  of  mistrust 
and  defiance  burned  unquenched,  though  covered  up  far  from 
sight.  She  no  longer  belonged  to  him  unquestioned.  Slowly, 
slowly,  the  fire  of  mistrust  and  defiance  burned  in  her,  burned 
away  her  connection  with  him. 

She  ran  a  good  deal  alone,  having  a  passion  for  all  moving, 
active  things.  She  loved  the  little  brooks.  Wherever  she 
found  a  little  running  water,  she  was  happy.  It  seemed  to 
make  her  run  and  sing  in  spirit  along  with  it.  She  could  sit 
for  hours  by  a  brook  or  stream,  on  the  roots  of  the  alders,  and 
watch  the  water  hasten  dancing  over  the  stones,  or  among 
the  twigs  of  a  fallen  branch.  Sometimes,  little  fish  vanished 
before  they  had  become  real,  like  hallucinations,  sometimes 
wagtails  ran  by  the  water's  brink,  sometimes  other  little  birds 
came  to  drink.  She  saw  a  kingfisher  darting  blue  —  and  then 
she  was  very  happy.  The  kingfisher  was  the  key  to  the  magic 
world:  he  was  witness  of  the  order  of  enchantment. 

But  she  must  move  out  of  the  intricately  woven  illusion  oi 
her  life:  the  illusion  of  a  father  whose  life  was  an  Odysse) 


252  THE  RAINBOW 

in  an  outer  world ;  the  illusion  of  her  grandmother,  of  realities 
so  shadowy  and  far-off  that  they  became  as  mystic  symbols :  — 
peasant-girls  with  wreaths  of  blue  flowers  in  their  hair,  the 
sledges  and  the  depth  of  winter;  the  dark-bearded  young 
grandfather,  marriage  and  war  and  death ;  then  the  multitude 
of  illusions  concerning  herself,  how  she  was  truly  a  princess 
of  Poland,  how  in  England  she  was  under  a  spell,  she  was  not 
really  this  Ursula  Brangwen ;  then  the  mirage  of  her  reading : 
out  of  the  multicoloured  illusion  of  this  her  life,  she  must 
move  on,  to  the  Grammar  School  in  Nottingham. 

She  was  shy,  and  she  suffered.  For  one  thing,  she  bit  her 
nails,  and  had  a  cruel  consciousness  in  her  finger-tips,  a  shame, 
an  exposure.  Out  of  all  proportion,  this  shame  haunted  her. 
She  spent  hours  of  torture,  conjuring  how  she  might  keep  her 
gloves  on :  if  she  might  say  her  hands  were  scalded,  if  she 
might  seem  to  forget  to  take  off  her  gloves. 

For  she  was  going  to  inherit  her  own  estate,  when  she  went 
to  the  High  School.  There,  each  girl  was  a  lady.  There, 
she  was  going  to  walk  among  free  souls,  her  co-mates  and 
her  equals,  and  all  petty  things  would  be  put  away.  Ah,  if 
only  she  did  not  bite  her  nails!  If  only  she  had  not  this 
blemish !  She  wanted  so  much  to  be  perfect  —  without  spot 
or  blemish,  living  the  high,  noble  life. 

It  was  a  grief  to  her  that  her  father  made  such  a  poor 
introduction.  He  was  brief  as  ever,  like  a  boy  saying  his 
errand,  and  his  clothes  looked  ill-fitting  and  casual.  Whereas 
Ursula  would  have  liked  robes  and  a  ceremonial  of  introduc- 
tion to  this,  her  new  estate. 

She  made  a  new  illusion  of  school.  Miss  Grey,  the  head- 
mistress, had  a  certain  silvery,  school-mistress}7'  beauty  of 
character.  The  school  itself  had  been  a  gentleman's  house. 
Dark,  sombre  lawns  separated  it  from  the  dark,  select  avenue. 
But  its  rooms  were  large  and  of  good  appearance,  and  from 
the  back,  one  looked  over  lawns  and  shrubbery,  over  the  trees 
and  the  grassy  slope  of  the  Arboretum,  to  the  town  which 
heaped  the  hollow  with  its  roofs  and  cupolas  and  its  shadows. 

So  Ursula  seated  herself  upon  the  hill  of  learning,  looking 
down  on  the  smoke  and  confusion  and  the  manufacturing,  en- 
grossed activity  of  the  town.  She  was  happy.  Up  here,  in 
the  Grammar  School,  she  fancied  the  air  was  finer,  beyond  the 
factory  smoke.  She  wanted  to  learn  Latin  and  Greek  and 
French  and  mathematics.  She  trembled  like  a  postulant 
when  she  wrote  the  Greek  alphabet  for  the  first  time. 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  253 

She  was  upon  another  hill-slope,  whose  summit  she  had  not 
scaled.  There  was  always  the  marvellous  eagerness  in  her 
heart,  to  climb  and  to  see  beyond.  A  Latin  verb  was  virgin 
soil  to  her :  she  sniffed  a  new  odour  in  it ;  it  meant  something, 
though  she  did  not  know  what  it  meant.  But  she  gathered  it 
up :  it  was  significant.  When  she  knew  that : 
x2  —  J2=  (x  +  y)  (x  —  y) 

then  she  felt  that  she  had  grasped  something,  that  she  was 
liberated  into  an  intoxicating  air,  rare  and  unconditioned. 
And  she  was  very  glad  as  she  wrote  her  French  exercise: 

"  J7ai  donne  le  pain  a  mon  petit  f  rere." 

In  all  these  things  there  was  the  sound  of  a  bugle  to  her 
heart,  exhilarating,  summoning  her  to  perfect  places.  She 
never  forgot  her  brown  "  Longman's  First  French  Grammar," 
nor  her  "  Via  Latina  "  with  its  red  edges,  nor  her  little  grey 
Algebra  book.  There  was  always  a  magic  in  them. 

At  learning  she  was  quick,  intelligent,  instinctive,  but  she 
was  not  "thorough."  If  a  thing  did  not  come  to  her  in- 
stinctively, she  could  not  learn  it.  And  then,  her  mad  rage 
of  loathing  for  all  lessons,  her  bitter  contempt  of  all  teachers 
and  schoolmistresses,  her  recoil  to  a  fierce,  animal  arrogance 
made  her  detestable. 

She  was  a  free,  unabateable  animal,  she  declared  in  her  re- 
volts: there  was  no  law  for  her,  nor  any  rule.  She  existed 
for  herself  alone.  Then  ensued  a  long  struggle  with  every- 
body, in  which  she  broke  down  at  last,  when  she  had  run  the 
full  length  of  her  resistance,  and  sobbed  her  heart  out,  deso> 
late;  and  afterwards,  in  a  chastened,  washed-out,  bodiless 
state,  she  received  the  understanding  that  would  not  come 
before,  and  went  her  way  sadder  and  wiser. 

Ursula  and  Gudrun  went  to  school  together.  Gudrun  was 
a  shy,  quiet,  wild  creature,  a  thin  slip  of  a  thing  hanging 
back  from  notice  or  twisting  past  to  disappear  into  her  own 
world  again.  She  seemed  to  avoid  all  contact,  instinctively, 
and  pursued  her  own  intent  way,  pursuing  half-formed  fancies 
that  had  no  relation  to  any  one  else. 

She  was  not  clever  at  all.  She  thought  Ursula  clever 
enough  for  -two.  Ursula  understood,  so  why  should  she, 
Gudrun,  bother  herself?  The  younger  girl  lived  her  reli- 
gious, responsible  life  in  her  sister,  by  proxy.  For  herself, 
she  was  indifferent  and  intent  as  a  wild  animal,  and  as  irre- 
sponsible. 

When  she  found  herself  at  the  bottom  of  the  class,  she 


254  THE  RAINBOW 

laughed,  lazily,  and  was  content,  saying  she  was  safe  now. 
She  did  not  mind  her  father's  chagrin  nor  her  mother's  tinge 
of  mortification. 

"  What  do  I  pay  for  you  to  go  to  Nottingham  for  ?  "  her 
father  asked,  exasperated. 

"  Well,  Dad,  you  Bknow  you  needn't  pay  for  me,"  she  re- 
plied, nonchalant.  "  I'm  ready  to  stop  at  home." 

She  was  happy  at  home,  Ursula  was  not.  Slim  and  un- 
willing abroad,  Gudrun  was  easy  in  her  own  house  as  a  wild 
thing  in  its  lair.  Whereas  Ursula,  attentive  and  keen  abroad, 
at  home  was  reluctant,  uneasy,  unwilling  to  be  herself,  or 
unable. 

Nevertheless,  Sunday  remained  the  maximum  day  of  the 
week  for  both.  Ursula  turned  passionately  to  it,  to  the  sense 
of  eternal  security  it  gave.  She  suffered  anguish  of  fears 
during  the  week-days,  for  she  felt  strong  powers  that  would 
not  recognize  her.  There  was  upon  her  always  a  fear  and  a 
dislike  of  authority.  She  felt  she  could  always  do  as  she 
wanted  if  she  managed  to  avoid  a  battle  with  Authority  and 
the  authorized  Powers.  But  if  she  gave  herself  away,  she 
would  be  lost,  destroyed.  There  was  always  the  menace 
against  her. 

This  strange  sense  of  cruelty  and  ugliness  always  imminent, 
ready  to  seize  hold  upon  her,  this  feeling  of  the  grudging 
power  of  the  mob  lying  in  wait  for  her,  who  was  the  excep- 
tion, formed  one  of  the  deepest  influences  of  her  life.  Wher- 
ever she  was,  at  school,  among  friends,  in  the  street,  in  the 
train,  she  instinctively  abated  herself,  made  herself  smaller, 
feigned  to  be  less  than  she  was,  for  fear  that  her  undiscovered 
self  should  be  seen,  pounced  upon,  attacked  by  brutish  resent- 
ment  of  the  commonplace,  the  average  Self. 

She  was  fairly  safe  at  school,  now.  She  knew  how  to  take 
her  place  there,  and  how  much  of  herself  to  reserve.  But 
she  was  free  only  on  Sundays.  When  she  was  but  a  girl  of 
fourteen,  she  began  to  feel  a  resentment  growing  against  her 
in  her  own  home.  She  knew  she  was  the  disturbing  influence 
there.  But  as  yet,  on  Sundays,  she  was  free,  really  free,  free 
to  be  herself,  without  fear  or  misgiving. 

Even  at  its  stormiest,  Sunday  was  a  blessed  day.  Ursula 
woke  to  it  with  a  feeling  of  immense  relief.  She  wondered 
why  her  heart  was  so  light.  Then  she  remembered  it  was 
Sunday.  A  gladness  seemed  to  hurst  out  around  her,  a  feel- 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  255 

ing  of  great  freedom.  The  whole  world  was  for  twenty-four 
hours  revoked,  put  back.  Only  the  Sunday  world  existed. 

She  loved  the  very  confusion  of  the  household.  It  was 
lucky  if  the  children  slept  till  seven  o'clock.  Usuall}',  soon 
after  six,  a  chirp  was  heard,  a  voice,  an  excited  chirrup  began, 
announcing  the  creation  of  a  new  day,  there  was  a  thudding 
of  quick  little  feet,  and  the  children  were  up  and  about, 
scampering  in  their  shirts,  with  pink  legs  and  glistening, 
flossy  hair  all  clean  from  the  Saturday's  night  bathing,  their 
souls  excited  by  their  bodies'  cleanliness. 

As  the  house  began  to  teem  with  rushing,  half -naked  clean 
children,  one  of  the  parents  rose,  either  the  mother,  easy  and 
slatternly,  with  her  thick,  dark  hair  loosely  coiled  and  slipping 
over  one  ear,  or  the  father,  warm  and  comfortable,  with  ruf- 
fled black  hair  and  shirt  unbuttoned  at  the  neck. 

Then  the  girls  upstairs  heard  the  continual : 

"  Now  then,  Billy,  what  are  you  up  to  ?  "  in  the  father's 
strong,  vibrating  voice :  or  the  mother's  dignified : 

"  I  have  said,  Cassie,  I  will  not  have  it." 

It  was  amazing  how  the  father's  voice  could  ring  out  like 
a  gong,  without  his  being  in  the  least  moved,  and  how  the 
mother  could  speak  like  a  queen  holding  an  audience,  though 
her  blouse  was  sticking  out  all  round  and  her  hair  was  not 
fastened  up  and  the  children  were  yelling  a  pandemonium. 

Gradually  breakfast  was  produced,  and  the  elder  girls  came 
down  into  the  babel,  whilst  half-naked  children  flitted  round 
like  the  wrong  ends  of  cherubs,  as  Gudrun  said,  watching  the 
bare  little  legs  and  the  chubby  tails  appearing  and  disap- 
pearing. 

Gradually  the  young  ones  were  captured,  and  nightdresses 
finally  removed,  ready  for  the  clean  Sunday  shirt.  But  be- 
fore the  Sunday  shirt  was  slipped  over  the  fleecy  head,  away 
darted  the  naked  body,  to  wallow  in  the  sheepskin  which 
formed  the  parlour  rug,  whilst  the  mother  walked  after,  pro- 
testing sharply,  holding  the  shirt  like  a  noose,  and  the  fa- 
ther's bronze  voice  rang  out,  and  the  naked  child  wallowing 
on  its  back  in  the  deep  sheepskin  announced  gleefully: 

"  I'm  hading  in  the  sea,  mother." 

"  Why  should  I  walk  after  you  with  your  shirt  ?  "  said  the 
mother.  "  Get  up  now." 

"I'm  hading  in  the  sea,  mother,"  repeated  the  wallowing, 
naked  figure. 


256  THE  RAINBOW 

"  We  say  bathing,  not  bading,"  said  the  mother,  with  her 
strange,  indifferent  dignity.  "  I  am  waiting  here  with  vour 
shirt." 

At  length  shirts  were  on,  and  stockings  were  paired,  and 
little  trousers  buttoned  and  little  petticoats  tied  behind.  The 
besetting  cowardice  of  the  family  was  its  shirking  of  the 
garter  question. 

"  Where  are  your  garters,  Cassie  ?  " 

"  I  don't  know/' 

"Well,  look  for  them." 

But  not  one  of  the  elder  Brangwens  would  really  face  the 
situation.  After  Cassie  had  grovelled  under  all  the  furniture 
and  blacked  up  all  her  Sunday  cleanliness,  to  the  infinite  grief 
of  everybody,  the  garter  was  forgotten  in  the  new  washing  of 
the  young  face  and  hands. 

Later,  Ursula  would  be  indignant  to  see  Miss  Cassie  march- 
ing into  church  from  Sunday  school  with  her  stocking  sluth- 
ered  down  to  her  ankle,  and  a  grubby  knee  showing. 

"  It's  disgraceful !  "  cried  Ursula  at  dinner.  "  People  will 
think  we're  pigs,  and  the  children  are  never  washed." 

"  Never  mind  what  people  think,"  said  the  mother  su- 
perbly. "I  see  that  the  child  is  bathed  properly,  and  if  I 
satisfy  myself  I  satisfy  everybody.  She  can't  keep  her  stock- 
ing up  and  no  garter,  and  it  isn't  the  child's  fault  she  was  let 
to  go  without  one." 

The  garter  trouble  continued  in  varying  degrees,  but  till 
each  child  wore  long  skirts  or  long  trousers,  it  was  not  re- 
moved. 

On  this  day  of  decorum,  the  Brangwen  family  went  to 
church  by  the  high-road,  making  a  detour  outside  all  the  gar- 
den-hedge, rather  than  climb  the  wall  into  the  churchyard. 
There  was  no  law  of  this,  from  the  parents.  The  children 
themselves  were  the  wardens  of  the  Sabbath  decency,  very 
jealous  and  instant  with  each  other. 

It  came  to  be,  gradually,  that  after  church  on  Sundays  the 
house  was  really  something  of  a  sanctuary,  with  peace  breath- 
ing like  a  strange  bird  alighted  in  the  rooms.  Indoors,  only 
reading  and  tale-telling  and  quiet  pursuits,  such  as  drawing, 
were  allowed.  Out  of  doors,  all  playing  was  to  be  carried  on 
unobtrusively.  If  there  were  noise,  yelling  and  shouting,  then 
some  fierce  spirit  woke  up  in  the  father  and  the  elder  children, 
so  that  the  younger  were  subdued,  afraid  of  being  excommuni- 
cated. 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  257 

The  children  themselves  preserved  the  Sabbath.  If  Ursula 
in  her  vanity  sang : 

"  II  6tait  un'  berg&re 
Et  ron-ron-ron  petit  patapon," 

Theresa  was  sure  to  cry: 

"  That's  not  a  Sunday  song,  our  Ursula/' 

"  You  don't  know/'  replied  Ursula,  superior.  Neverthe- 
less, she  wavered.  And  her  song  faded  down  before  she  came 
to  the  end. 

Because,  though  she  did  not  know  it,  h<?r  Sunday  was  very 
precious  to  her.  She  found  herself  in  a  strange,  undefined 
place,  where  her  spirit  could  wander  in  dreams,  unassailed. 

The  white-robed  spirit  of  Christ  passed  between  olive  trees. 
It  was  a  vision,  not  a  reality.  And  she  herself  partook  of  the 
visionary  being.  There  was  the  voice  in  the  night  calling, 
"  Samuel,  Samuel !  "  And  still  the  voice  called  in  the  night. 
But  not  this  night,  nor  last  night,  but  in  the  unfathomed 
night  of  Sunday,  of  the  Sabbath  silence. 

There  was  Sin,  the  serpent,  in  whom  was  also  wisdom. 
There  was  Judas  with  the  money  and  the  kiss. 

But  there  was  no  actual  Sin.  If  Ursula  slapped  Theresa 
across  the  face,  even  on  a  Sunday ^  that  was  not  Sin,  the  ever- 
lasting. It  was  misbehaviour.  If  Billy  played  truant  from 
Sunday  school,  he  was  bad,  he  was  wicked,  but  he  was  not  a 
Sinner. 

Sin  was  absolute  and  everlasting:  wickedness  and  badness 
were  temporary  and  relative.  When  Billy,  catching  up  the 
local  jargon,  called  Cassie  a  "  sinner,"  everybody  detested 
him.  Yet  when  there  came  to  the  Marsh  a  flippetty-floppetty 
fox-hound  puppy,  he  was  mischievously  christened  "  Sinner/' 

The  Brangwens  shrank  from  applying  their  religion  to  their 
own  immediate  actions.  They  wanted  the  sense  of  the  eter- 
nal and  immortal,  not  a  list  of  rules  for  everyday  conduct. 
Therefore  they  were  badly-behaved  children,  headstrong  and 
arrogant,  though  'their  feelings  were  generous.  They  had, 
moreover  —  intolerable  to  their  ordinary  neighbours  —  a 
proud  gesture,  that  did  not  lit  with  the  jealous  idea  of  the 
democratic  Christian.  So  that  they  were  always  extraordi- 
nary, outside  of  the  ordinary. 

How  bitterly  Ursula  resented  her  first  acquaintance  with 
evangelical  teachings.  She  got  a  peculiar  thrill  from  the 
application  of  salvation  to  her  own  personal  case.  "Jesus 


258  THE  RAINBOW 

died  for  me,  He  suffered  for  me."  There  was  a  pride  and  a 
thrill  in  it,  followed  almost  immediately  by  a  sense  of  dreari- 
ness. Jesus  with  holes  in  His  hands  and  feet:  it  was  dis- 
tasteful to  her.  The  shadowy  Jesus  with  the  Stigmata :  that 
was  her  own  vision.  But  Jesus  the  actual  man,  talking  with 
teeth  and  lips,  telling  one  to  put  one's  finger  into  His  wounds, 
like  a  villager  gloating  in  his  sores,  repelled  her.  She  was 
enemy  of  those  who  insisted  on  the  humanity  of  Christ.  If 
He  were  just  a  man,  living  in  ordinary  human  life,  then  she 
was  indifferent. 

But  it  was  the  jealousy  of  vulgar  people  which  must  insist 
on  the  humanity  of  Christ.  It  was  the  vulgar  mind  which 
would  allow  nothing  extra-human,  nothing  beyond  itself  to 
exist.  It  was  the  dirty,  desecrating  hands  of  the  revivalists 
which  wanted  to  drag  Jesus  into  this  everyday  life,  to  dress 
Jesus  up  in  trousers  and  frock  coat,  to  compel  Him  to  a 
vulgar  equality  of  footing.  It  was  the  impudent  suburban 
.soul  which  would  ask,  "What  would  Jesus  do,  if  he  were  in 
my  shoes  ?  " 

Against  all  .this,  the  Brangwens  stood ...  at  bay.  If  any  one, 
it  was  the  mother  who  was  caught  by,  or  who  was  most  care- 
less of  the  vulgar  clamour.  She  would  have  nothing  extra- 
human.  She  never  really  subscribed,  all  her  life,  to  Brang- 
wen's  mystical  passion. 

But  Ursula  was  with  her  father.  As  she  became  adolescent, 
thirteen,  fourteen,  she  set  more  and  more  against  her  mother's 
practical  indifference.  To  Ursula,  there  was  something  cal- 
lous, almost  wicked  in  her  mother's  attitude.  What  did  Anna 
Brangwen,  in  these  years,  care  for  God  or  Jesus  or  Angels? 
She  was  the  immediate  life  of  to-day.  Children  were  still 
being  born  to  her,  she  was  throng  with  all  the  little  activi- 
ties of  her  family.  And  almost  instinctively  she  resented  her 
husband's  slavish  service  to  the  Church,  his  dark,  subject 
hankering  to  worship  an  -unseen  God.  What  did  the  unre- 
vealed  God  matter,  when  a  man  had  a  young  family  that 
needed  fettling  for?  Let  him  attend  to  the  immediate  con- 
cerns of  his  life,  not  go  projecting  himself  towards  the  ulti- 
mate. 

But  Ursula  was  all  for  the  ultimate.  She  was  always  in 
revolt  against  babies  arid  muddled  domesticity.  To  her  Jesus 
was  another  world,  He  was  not  of  this  world.  He  did  not 
thrust  IJis  hands  under  her  face  and,  pointing  to  His  wounds, 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  259 

"  Look,  Ursula  Brangwen,  I  got  these  for  your  sake.  Now 
do  as  you're  told." 

To  her,  Jesus  was  beautifully  remote,  shining  in  the  dis* 
tance,  like  'a  white  moon  at  sunset,  a  crescent  moon  beckoning 
as  it  follows  the  sun,  out  of  our  ken.  Sometimes  dark  clouds 
standing  very  far  off,  pricking  up  into  a  clear  yellow  band  of 
sunset,  of  a  winter  evening,  reminded  her  of  Calvary,  some- 
times the  full  moon  rising  blood-red  upon  the  hill  terrified  her 
with  the  knowledge  that  Christ  was  now  dead,  hanging  heavy 
and  dead  on  the  Cross. 

On  Sundays,  this  visionary  world  came  to  pass.  She  heard 
the  long  hush,  she  knew  the  marriage  of  dark  and  light  was 
taking  place.  In  church,  the  Voice  sounded,  re-echoing  not 
from  this  world,  as  if  the  church  itself  were  a  shell  that  still, 
spoke  the  language  of  creation. 

"  The  Sons  of  God  saw  the  daughters  of  men  that  they  were 
fair :  and  they  took  them  wives  of  all  which  they  chose. 

"  And  the  Lord  said,  My  spirit  shall  not  ahvays  strive  with 
Man,  for  that  he  also  is  flesh ;  yet  his  days  shall  be  an  hundred 
and  twenty  years. 

"There  were  giants  in  the  earth  in  those  days;  and  also 
after  that,  when  the  Sons  of  God  came  in  unto  the  daughters 
of  men,  and  they  bare  children  unto  them,  the  same  became 
mighty  men  which  were  of  old,  men  of  renown." 

Over  this  Ursula  was  stirred  as  by  a  call  from  far  off.  In 
those  days,  would  not  the  Sons  of  God  have  found  her  fair, 
would  she  not  have  been  taken  to  wife  by  one  of  the  Sons  of 
God  ?  It  was  a  dream  that  frightened  her,  for  she  could  not 
understand  it. 

Who  were  the  sons  of  God  ?  Was  not  Jesus  the  only  begot- 
ten Son?  Was  not  Adam  the  only  man  created  from  God? 
Yet  there  were  men  not  begotten  by  Adam.  Who  were  these, 
and  whence  did  they  come  ?  They  too  must  derive  from  God. 
Had  God  many  offspring,  besides  Adam  and  besides  Jesus, 
children  whose  origin  the  children  of  Adam  cannot  recognize? 
And  perhaps  these  children,  these  sons  of  God,  had  known  n« 
expulsion,  no  ignominy  of  the  fall. 

These  came  on  free  feet  to  the  daughters  of  men,  and  saw 
they  were  fair,  and  took  them  to  wife,  so  that  the  women 
conceived  and  brought  forth  men  of  renown.  This  was  a 
genuine  fate.  She  moved  about  in  the  essential  days,  whe» 
the  sons  of  God  came  in  unto  the  daughters  of  men. 

Nor  would  any  comparison  of  myths  destroy  her  passio* 


260  THE  RAINBOW 

in  the  knowledge.  Jove  had  become  a  bull,  or  a  man,  in 
order  to  love  a  mortal  woman.  He  had  begotten  in  her  a 
giant,  a  hero. 

Very  good,  so  he  had,  in  Greece.  For  herself,  she  was  no 
Grecian  woman.  Not  Jove  nor  Pan  nor  any  of  those  gods, 
not  even  Bacchus  nor  Apollo,  could  come  to  her.  But  the 
Sons  of  God  who  took  to  wife  the  daughters  of  men,  these 
were  such  as  should  take  her  to  wife. 

She  clung  to  the  secret  hope,  the  aspiration.  She  lived  a 
dual  life,  one  where  the  facts  of  daily  life  encompassed  every- 
thing, being  legion,  and  the  other  wherein  the  facts  of  daily 
life  were  superseded  by  the  eternal  truth.  So  utterly  did 
she  desire  the  Sons  of  God  should  come  to  the  daughters 
of  men;  and  she  believed  more  in  her  desire  and  its  fulfil- 
ment than  in  the  obvious  facts  of  life.  The  fact  that  a  man 
was  a  man,  did  not  state  his  descent  from  Adam,  did  not 
exclude  that  he  was  also  one  of  the  unhistoried,  unaccount- 
able Sons  of  God.  As  yet,  she  was  confused,  but  not  denied. 

Again  she  heard  the  Voice : 

"  It  is  easier  for  a  camel  to  go  through  the  eye  of  a  needle, 
than  for  a  rich  man  to  enter  into  heaven." 

But  it  was  explained,  the  needle's  eye  was  a  little  gateway 
for  foot  passengers,  through  which  the  great,  humped  camel 
with  his  load  could  not  possibly  squeeze  himself :  or  per- 
haps, at  a  great  risk,  if  he  were  a  little  camel,  he  might  get 
through.  For  one  could  not  absolutely  exclude  the  rich  man 
from  heaven,  said  the  Sunday  school  teachers. 

It  pleased  her  also  to  know,  that  in  the  East  one  must  use 
hyperbole,  or  else  remain  unheard;  because  the  Eastern  man 
must  see  a  thing  swelling  to  fill  all  heaven,  or  dwindled  to  a 
mere  nothing,  before  he  is  suitably  impressed.  She  imme- 
diately sympathized  with  this  Eastern  mind. 

Yet  the  words  continued  to  have  a  meaning  that  was  un- 
touched either  by  the  knowledge  of  gateways  or  hyperboles. 
The  historical,  or  local,  or  psychological  interest  in  the  words 
was  another  thing.  There  remained  unaltered  the  inexplic- 
able value  of  the  saying.  What  was  this  relation  between  a 
needle's  eye,  a  rich  man,  and  heaven  ?  What  sort  of  a  needle's 
eye,  what  sort  of  a  rich  man,  what  sort  of  heaven?  Who 
knows?  It  means  the  Absolute  World,  and  can  never  be  more 
than  half  interpreted  in  terms  of  the  relative  world. 

But  must  one  apply  the  speech  literally?  Was  her  father 
a  rich  man?  Couldn't  he  get  to  heaven?  Or  was  he  only 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  261 

a  half-rich  man?  Or  was  he  nearly  a  poor  man?  At  any 
rate,  unless  he  gave  everything  away  to  the  poor,  he  would 
find  it  much  harder  to  get  to  heaven.  The  needle's  eye  would 
be  too  tight  for  him.  She  almost  wished  he  were  penniless 
poor.  If  one  were  coming  to  the  base  of  it,  any  man  was 
rich  who  was  not  as  poor  as  the  poorest. 

She  had  her  qualms,  when  in  imagination  she  saw  her  father 
giving  away  their  piano  and  the  two  cows,  and  the  capital 
at  the  bank,  to  the  labourers  of  the  district,  so  that  they,  the 
Brangwens,  should  be  as  poor  as  the  Wherrys.  And  she  did 
not  want  it.  She  was  impatient. 

"  Very  well/'  she  thought,  "  we'll  forego  that  heaven,  that's 
all  —  at  any  rate  the  needle's  eye  sort."  And  she  dismissed 
the  problem.  She  was  not  going  to  be  as  poor  as  the  Wherrys, 
not  for  all  the  sayings  on  earth  —  the  miserable  squalid 
Wherrys. 

So  she  reverted  to  the  non-literal  application  of  the  scrip- 
tures. Her  father  very  rarely  read,  but  he  had  collected 
many  books  of  reproductions,  and  he  would  sit  and  look  at 
these,  curiously  intent,  like  a  child,  yet  with  a  passion  that 
was  not  childish.  He  loved  the  early  Italian  painters,  but 
particularly  Giotto  and  Fra  Angelico  and  Filippo  Lippi.  The 
great  compositions  cast  a  spell  over  him.  How  many  times 
had  he  turned  to  Eaphael's  "  Dispute  of  the  Sacrament "  or 
Fra  Angelico's  "  Last  Judgment "  or  the  beautiful,  compli- 
cated renderings  of  the  Adoration  of  the  Magi,  and  always, 
each  time,  he  received  the  same  gradual  fulfilment  of  delight. 
It  had  to  do  with  the  establishment  of  a  whole  mystical, 
architectural  conception  which  used  the  human  figure^  as  a 
unit.  Sometimes  he  had  to  hurry  home,  and  go  to  the  Fra 
Angelico  "  Last  Judgment/'  The  pathway  of  open  graves, 
the  huddled  earth  on  either -side,  the  seemly  heaven  arranged 
above,  the  singing  progress  to  paradise  on  the  one  hand,  the 
stuttering  descent  to  hell  on  the  other,  completed  and  satisfied 
him.  He  did  not  care  whether  or  not  he  believed  .in  devils  or 
angels.  The  whole  conception  gave  him  the  deepest  satisfac- 
tion, and  he  wanted  nothing  more. 

Ursula,  accustomed  to  these  pictures  from  her  childhood, 
hunted  out  their  detail.  She  adored  Fra  Angelico's  flowers 
and  light  and  angels,  she  liked  the  demons  and  enjoyed  the 
hell.  But  the  representation  of  the  encircled  God,  surrounded 
by  all  the  angels  on  high,  suddenly  bored  her.  The  figure  of 
the  Most  High  bored  her,  and  roused  her  resentment.  Was 


S62  THE  RAINBOW 

this  the  culmination  and  the  meaning  of  it  all,  this  draped,  null 
figure  ?  The  angels  were  so  lovely,  and  the  light  so  beautiful. 
And  only  for  this,  to  surround  such  a  banality  for  God ! 

She  was  dissatisfied,  but  not  fit  as  yet  to  criticize.  There 
was  yet  so  much  to  wonder  over.  Winter  came,  pine  branches 
were  torn  down  in  the  snow,  the  green  pine  needles  looked 
rich  upon  the  ground.  There  was  the  wonderful,  starry, 
straight  track  of  a  pheasant's  footsteps  across  the  snow  im- 
printed so  clear ;  there  was  the  lobbing  mark  of  the  rabbit,  two 
holes  abreast,  two  holes  following  behind;  the  hare  shoved 
deeper  shafts,  slanting,  and  his  two  hind  feet  came  down  to- 
gether and  made  one  large  pit ;  the  cat  podded  little  holes,  and 
birds  made  a  lacy  pattern. 

Gradually  there  gathered  the  feeling  of  expectation.  Christ- 
mas was  coming.  In  the  shed,  at  nights,  a  secret  candle  was 
burning,  a  sound  of  veiled  voices  was  heard.  The  boys  were 
learning  the  old  mystery  play  of  St.  George  and  Beelzebub. 
Twice  a  week,  by  lamplight,  there  was  choir  practice  in  the 
church,  for  the  learning  of  old  carols  Brangwen  wanted  to  hear. 
The  girls,  went  to  these  practices.  Everywhere  was  a  sense  of 
mystery  and  rousedness.  Everybody  was  preparing  for  some- 
thing. 

The  time  came  near,  the  girls  were  decorating  the  church, 
with  cold  fingers  binding  holly  and  fir  and  yew  about  the 
pillars,  till  a  new  spirit  was  in  the  church,  the  stone  broke 
out  into  dark,  rich  leaf,  the  arches  put  forth  their  buds,  and 
cold  flowers  rose  to  blossom  in  the  dim,  mystic  atmosphere. 
Ursula  must  weave  mistletoe  over  the  door,  and  over  the 
screen,  and  hang  a  silver  dove  from  a  sprig  of  yew,  till  dusk 
came  down,  and  the  church  was  like  a  grove. 

In  the  cow-shed  the  boys  were  blacking  their  faces  for  a 
dress-rehearsal;  the  turkey  hung  dead,  with  opened,  speckled 
wings,  in  the  dairy.  The  time  was  come  to  make  pies,  in 
readiness. 

The  expectation  grew  more  tense.  The  star  was  risen  into 
the  sky,  the  songs,  the  carols  were  ready  to  hail  it.  The  star 
was  the  sign  in  the  sky.  Earth  too  should  give  a  sign.  As 
evening  drew  on,  hearts  beat  fast  with  anticipation,  hands 
were  full  of  ready  gifts.  There  were  the  tremulously  ex- 
pectant words  of  the  church  service,  the  night  was  past  and 
the  morning  was  come,  the  gifts  were  given  and  received, 
joy  and  peace  made  a  flapping  of  wings  in  each  heart,  there 
was  a  great  burst  of  carols,  the  Peace  of  the  World  had 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  263 

dawned,  strife  had  passed  away,  every  hand  was  linked  in 
hand,  every  heart  was  singing. 

It  was  bitter,  though,  that  Christmas  day,  as  it  drew  on  to 
evening,  and  night,  became  a  sort  of  bank  holiday,  flat  and 
stale.  The  morning  was  so  wonderful,  but  in  the  afternoon 
and  evening  the  ecstasy  perished  like  a  nipped  thing,  like  a 
bud  in  a  false  spring.  Alas,  that  Christmas  was  only  a  do- 
mestic feast,  a  feast  of  sweetmeats  and  toys !  Why  did  not  the 
grown-ups  also  change  their  everyday  hearts,  and  give  way  to 
ecstasy  ?  Where  was  the  ecstasy  ? 

How  passionately  the  Brangwens  craved  for  it,  the  ecstasy. 
The  father  was  troubled,  dark-faced  and  disconsolate,  on 
Christmas  night,  because  the  passion  was  not  there,  because 
the  day  was  become  as  every  day,  and  hearts  were  not  aflame. 
Upon  the  mother  was  a  kind  of  absentness,  as  ever,  as  if  she 
were  exiled  for  all  her  life.  Where  was  the  fiery  heart  of 
joy,  now  the  coming  was  fulfilled;  where  was  the  star,  the 
Magi's  transport,  the  thrill  of  new  being  that  shook  the  earth  ? 

Still  it  was  there,  even  if  it  were  faint  and  inadequate. 
The  cycle  of  creation  still  wheeled  in  the  Church  year.  After 
Christmas,  the  ecstasy  slowly  sank  and  changed.  Sunday  fol- 
lowed Sunday,  trailing  a  fine  movement,  a  finely  developed 
transformation  over  the  heart  of  the  family.  The  heart  that 
was  big  with  joy,  that  had  seen  the  star  and  had  followed 
to  the  inner  walls  of  the  Nativity,  that  there  had  swooned  in 
the  great  light,  must  now  feel  the  light  slowly  withdrawing, 
a  shadow  falling,  darkening.  The  chill  crept  in,  silence  came 
over  the  earth,  and  then  all  was  darkness.  The  veil  of  the 
temple  was  rent,  each  heart  gave  up  the  ghost,  and  sank  dead. 

They  moved  quietly,  a  little  wanness  on  the  lips  of  the 
children,  at  Good  Friday,  feeling  the  shadow  upon  their  hearts. 
Then,  pale  with  a  deathly  scent,  came  the  lilies  of  resurrection, 
that  shone  coldly  till  the  Comforter  was  given. 

But  why  the  memory  of  the  wounds  and  the  death  ?  Surely 
Christ  rose  with  healed  hands  and  feet,  sound  and  strong  and 
glad  ?  Surely  the  passage  of  the  cross  and  the  tomb  was  for- 
gotten ?  But  no  —  always  the  memory  of  the  wounds,  always 
the  smell  of  grave-clothes?  A  small  thing  was  Eesurrection, 
compared  with  the  Cross  and  the  death,  in  this  cycle. 

So  the  children  lived  the  year  of  Christianity,  the  epic  of 
the  soul  of  mankind.  Year  by  year  the  inner,  unknown 
drama  went  on  in  them,  their  hearts  were  born  and  came  to 
fulness,  suffered  on  the  cross,  gave  up  the  ghost,  and  rose 


264  THE  RAINBOW 

again  to  unnumbered  days,  untired,  having  at  least  this 
rhythm  of  eternity  in  a  ragged,  inconsequential  life. 

But  it  was  becoming  a  mechanical  action  now,  this  drama: 
birth  at  Christmas  for  death  at  Good  Friday.  On  Easter 
Sunday  the  life-drama  was  as  good  as  finished.  For  the 
Eesurrection  was  shadowy  and  overcome  by  the  shadow  of 
death,  the  Ascension  was  scarce  noticed,  a  mere  confirmation 
of  death. 

What  was  the  hope  and  the  fulfilment?  Nay,  was  it  all 
only  a  useless  after-death,  a  wan,  bodiless  after-death  ?  Alas, 
.and  alas  for  the  passion  of  the  human  heart,  that  must  die  so 
long  before  the  body  was  dead. 

For  from  the  grave,  after  the  passion  and  the  trial  of 
anguish,  the  body  rose  torn  and  chill  and  colourless.  Did 
not  Christ  say,  "  Mary ! "  and  when  she  turned  with  out- 
stretched hands  to  him,  did  he  not  hasten  to  add,  "  Touch 
me  not;  for  I  am  not  yet  ascended  to  my  father." 

Then  how  could  the  hands  rejoice,  or  the  heart  be  glad, 
eeeing  themselves  repulsed.  Alas,  for  the  resurrection  of  the 
dead  body!  Alas,  for  the  wavering,  glimmering  appearance 
of  the  risen  Christ.  Alas,  for  the  Ascension  into  heaven, 
which  is  a  shadow  within  death,  a  complete  passing  away. 

Alas,  that  so  soon  the  drama  is  over;  that  life  is  ended 
at  thirty-three;  that  the  half  of  the  year  of  the  soul  is  cold 
and  historiless !  Alas,  that  a  risen  Christ  has  no  place  with  us ! 
Alas,  that  the  memory  of  the  passion  of  Sorrow  and  Death  and 
the  Grave  holds  triumph  over  the  pale  fact  of  Eesurrection ! 

But  why?  Why  shall  I  not  rise  with  my  body  whole  and 
perfect,  shining  with  strong  life?  Why,  when  Mary  says: 
Eabboni,  shall  I  not  take  her  in  my  arms  and  kiss  her  and 
hold  her  to  my  breast?  Why  is  the  risen  body  deadly,  and 
abhorrent  with  wounds  ? 

The  Eesurrection  is  to  life,  not  to  death.  Shall  I  not  see 
those  who  have  risen  again  walk  here  among  men  perfect  in 
body  and  spirit,  whole  and  glad  in  the  flesh,  living  in  the 
flesh,  loving  in  the  flesh,  begetting  children  in  the  flesh, 
arrived  at  last  to  wholeness,  perfect  without  scar  or  blemish, 
healthy  without  fear  of  ill-health  ?  Is  this  not  the  period 
of  manhood  and  of  joy  and  fulfilment,  after  the  Eesurrection  ? 
Who  shall  be  shadowed  by  Death  and  the  Cross,  being  risen, 
and  who  shall  fear  the  mystic,  perfect  flesh  that  belongs  to 
heaven  ? 

Can  I  not,  then,  walk  this  earth  in  gladness,  being  risen 


THE  WIDENING  CIRCLE  265 

from  sorrow?  Can  I  not  eat  with  my  brother  happily,  and 
with  joy  kiss  my  beloved,  after  my  resurrection,  celebrate 
my  marriage  in  the  flesh  with  feastings,  go  about  my  business 
eagerly,  in  the  joy  of  my  fellows?  Is  heaven  impatient  for 
me,  and  bitter  against  this  earth,  that  I  should  hurry  off, 
or  that  I  should  linger  pale  and  untouched?  Is  the  flesh 
which  was  crucified  become  as  poison  to  the  crowds  in  the 
street,  or  is  it  as  a  strong  gladness  and  hope  to  them,  as  the 
first  flower  blossoming  out  of  the  earth's  humus  ? 


CHAPTER  XI 

FIRST   LOVE 

AS  Ursula  passed  from  girlhood  towards  womanhood, 
gradually  the  cloud  of  self-responsibility  gathered 
upon  her.     She  became  aware  of  herself,  that  she 
was  a  separate  entity  in  the  midst  of  an  unseparated 
obscurity,  that  she  must  go  somewhere,  she  must  become  some- 
thing.    And  she  was  afraid,  troubled.     Why,  oh  why  must 
one  grow  up,  why  must  one  inherit  this  heavy,  numbing  re- 
sponsibility of  living  an  undiscovered  life  ?     Out  of  the  noth- 
ingness and  the  undifferentiated  mass,  to  make  something  of 
herself !     But  what  ?     In  the  obscurity  and  pathlessness  to 
take  a  direction !     But  whither  ?     How  take  even  one  step  ? 
And  yet,  how  stand  still  ?     This  was  torment  indeed,  to  inherit 
the  responsibility  of  one's  own  life. 

The  religion  which  had  been  another  world  for  her,  a 
glorious  sort  of  play-world,  where  she  lived,  climbing  the 
tree  with  the  short-statured  man,  walking  shakily  on  tne  sea 
like  the  disciple,  breaking  the  bread  into  five  thousand  por- 
tions, like  the  Lord,  giving  a  great  picnic  to  five  thousand 
people,  now  fell  away  from'  reality,  and  became  a  tale,  a  myth, 
an  illusion,  which,  however  much  one  might  assert  it  to  be 
true  an  historical  fact,  one  knew  was  not 'true  —  at  least,  for 
this  present-day  life  of  ours.  There  could,  within  the  limits 
of  this  life  we  know,  be  no  Feeding  of  the  Five  Thousand. 
And  the  girl  had  come  to  the  point  where  she  held  that  that 
which  one  cannot  experience  in  daily  life  is  not  true  for  one- 
•elf. 

So,  the  old  duality  of  life,  wherein  there  had  been  a  week- 
day world  of  people  and  trains  and  duties  and  reports,  and 
besides  that  a  Sunday  world  of  absolute  truth  and  living 
mystery,  of  walking  upon  the  waters  and  being  blinded  by  the 
face  of  the  Lord,  of  following  the  pillar  of  cloud  across  t" 
desert  and  watching  the  bush  that  crackled  yet  did  not  bu 
awav,  this  old,  unquestioned  duality  suddenly  was  found 

266 


"& 
he 

= 


FIRST  LOVE  267 

be  broken  apart.  The  weekday  world  had  triumphed  over 
the  Sunday  world.  The  Sunday  world  was  not  real,  or  at 
least,  not  actual.  And  one,  lived  by  action. 

Only  the  weekday  world  mattered.  She  herself,  Ursula 
Brangwen,  must  know  how  to  take  the  weekday  life.  Her 
body  must  be  a  weekday  body,  held  in  the  world's  estimate. 
Her  soul  must  have  a  weekday  value,  known  according  to 
the  world's  knowledge. 

Well,  then,  there  was  a  weekday  life  to  live,  of  action  and 
deeds.  And  so  there  was  a  necessity  to  choose  one's  action 
anql  one's  deeds.  One  was  responsible  to  the  world  for  what 
one  did. 

Nay,  one  was  more  than  responsible  to  the  world.  One 
was  responsible  to  oneself.  There  was  some  puzzling,  tor- 
menting residue  of  the  Sunday  world  within  her,  some  per- 
sistent Sunday  self,  which  insisted  upon  a  relationship  with 
the  now  shed-away  vision  world.  How  could  one  keep  up 
a  relationship  with  that  which  one  denied?  Her  task  was 
now  to  learn  the  week-day  life. 

How  to  act,  that  was  the  question?  Whither  to  go,  how 
to  become  oneself?  One  was  not  oneself,  one  was  merely  a 
half -stated  question.  How  to  become  oneself,  how  to  know 
the  question  and  the  answer  of  oneself,  when  one  was  merely 
an  unfixed  something-nothing,  blowing  about  like  the  winds 
of  heaven,  undefined,  unstated. 

She  turned  to  the  "visions,  which  had  spoken  far-off  words 
that  ran  along  the  blood  like  ripples  of  an  unseen  wind,  she 
heard  the  words  again,  she  denied  the  vision,  for  she  must  be 
a  weekday  person,  to  whom  visions  were  not  true,  and  she  de- 
manded only  the  weekday  meaning  of  the  words. 

There  were  words  spoken  by  the  vision:  and  words  must 
have  a  weekday  meaning,  since  words  were  weekday  stuff. 
Let  them  speak  now :  let  them  bespeak  themselves  in  week- 
day terms.  The  vision  should  translate  itself  into  weekday 
terms. 

"  Sell  all  thou  hast,  and  give  to  the  poor,"  she  heard  on 
Sunday  morning.  That  was  plain  enough,  plain  enough  for 
Monday  morning  too.  As  she  went  down  the  hill  to  the  sta- 
tion, going  to  school,  she  took  the  saying  with  her. 

"  Sell  all  thou  hast,  and  give  to  the  poor." 

Did  she  want  to  do  that?  Did  she  want  to  sell  her  pearl- 
backed  brush  and  mirror,  her  silver  candlestick,  her  pendant, 
her  lovely  little  necklace,  and  go  dressed  in  drab  like  the 


'268  THE  RAINBOW 

Wherrys:   the   unlovely  uncombed  Wherrys,   who  were   the 
"poor"  to  her?     She  did  not. 

She  walked  this  Monday  morning  on  the  verge  of  misery. 
For  she  did  want  to  do  what  was  right.     And  she  didn't  want 
to  do  what  the  gospels  said.     She  didn't  want  to  be  poor  — 
really  poor.     The  thought  was  a  horror  to  her :  to  live  like 
the  Wherrys,  so  ugly,  to  be  at  the  mercy  of  everybody. 

"  Sell  that  thou  hast,  and  give  to  the  poor." 

One  could  not  do  it  in  real  life.  How  dreary  and  hopeless 
it  made  her ! 

Nor  could  one  turn  the  other  cheek.  Theresa  slapped 
Ursula  on  the  face.  Ursula,  in  a  mood  of  Christian  humility, 
silently  presented  the  other  side  of  her  face.  Which  Theresa, 
in  exasperation  at  the  challenge,  also  hit.  Whereupon  Ursula, 
with  boiling  heart,  went  meekly  away. 

But  anger,  and  deep,  writhing  shame  tortured  her,  so  she 
was  not  easy  till  she  had  again  quarrelled  with  Theresa  and 
had  almost  shaken  her  sister's  head  off. 

" That'll  teach  you"  she  said,  grimly. 

And  she  went  away,  unchristian  but  clean. 

There  was  something  unclean  and  degrading  about  this 
humble  side  of  Christianity.  Ursula  suddenly  revolted  to 
the  other  extreme. 

"I  hate  the  Wherrys,  and  I  wish  they  were  dead.  Why 
does  my  father  leave  us  in  the  lurch  like  this,  making  us  be 
poor  and  insignificant?  Why  is  he  not  more?  If  we  had 
a  father  as  he  ought  to  be,  he  would  be  Earl  William  Brang- 
wen,  and  I  should  be  the  Lady  Ursula?  What  right  have 
/  to  be  poor  ?  crawling  along  the  lane  like  vermin  ?  If  I  had 
my  rights  I  should  be  seated  on  horseback  in  a  green  riding- 
habit,  and  my  groom  would  be  behind  me.  And  I  should  stop 
at  the  gates  of  the  cottages,  and  enquire  of  the  cottage  woman 
-who  came  out  with  a  child  in  her  arms,  how  did  her  husband, 
who  had  hurt  his  foot.  And  I  would  pat  the  flaxen  head  of 
the  child,  stooping  from  my  horse,  and  I  would  give  her  a 
shilling  from  my  purse,  and  order  nourishing  food  to  be  sent 
from  the  hall  to  the  cottage." 

So  she  rode  in  her  pride.     And  sometimes,  she  dashed  into 
flames  to  rescue  a  forgotten  child ;  or  she  dived  into  the  canal 
locks  and  supported  a  boy  who  was  seized  with  cramp ;  or  si 
swept  up  a  toddling  infant  from  the  feet  of  a  runaway  horse 
always  imaginatively,  of  course. 

But  in  the  end  there  returned  the  poignant  yearning  froi 


FIRST  LOVE  269 

the  Sunday  world.  As  she  went  down  in  the  morning  from 
Cossethay  and  saw  Ilkeston  smoking  blue  and  tender  upon 
its  hill,  then  her  heart  surged  with  far-off  words : 

"  Oh,  Jerusalem  —  Jerusalem  —  how  often  would  I  have 
gathered  thy  children  together  as  a  hen  gathereth  her  chickens 
under  her  wings,  and  ye  would  not  — 

The  passion  rose  in  her  for  Christ,  for  the  gathering  under 
the  wings  of  security  and  warmth.  But  how  did  it  apply  to 
the  weekday  world?  What  could  it  mean,  but  that  Christ 
should  clasp  her  to  his  breast,  as  a  mother  clasps  her  child? 
And  oh,  for  Christ,  for  him  who  could  hold  her  to  his  breast 
and  lose  her  there.  Oh,  for  the  breast  of  man,  where  she 
should  have  refuge  and  bliss  for  ever !  All  her  senses  quivered 
with  passionate  yearning. 

Vaguely  she  knew  that  Christ  meant  something  else:  that 
in  the  vision-world  He  spoke  of  Jerusalem,  something  that 
did  not  exist  in  the  everyday  world.  It  was  not  houses  and 
factories  He  would  hold  in  His  bosom:  nor  householders  nor 
factory-workers  nor  poor  people :  but  something  that  had  no 
part  in  the  weekday  world,  nor  seen  nor  touched  with  week- 
day hands  and  eyes. 

Yet  she  must  have  it  in  weekday  terms  —  she  must.  For 
all  her. life  was  a  weekday  life,  now,  this  was  the  whole.  So 
he  must  gather  her  body  to  his  breast,  that  was  strong  with 
a  broad  bone,  and  which  sounded  with  the  beating  of  the 
heart,  and  which  was  warm  with  the  life  of  which  she  par- 
took, the  life  of  the  running  blood. 

So  she  craved  for  the  breast  of  the  Son  of  Man,  to  lie  there. 
And  she  was  ashamed  in  her  soul,  ashamed.  For  whereas 
Christ  spoke  for  the  Vision  to  answer,  she  answered  from 
the  weekday  fact.  It  was  a  betrayal,  a  transference  of  mean- 
ing, from  the  vision  world,  to  the  matter-of-fact  world.  So 
she  was  ashamed  of  her  religious  ecstasy,  and  dreaded  lest  any 
one  should  see  it. 

Early  in  the  year,  when  the  lambs  came,  and  shelters  were 
built  of  straw,  and  on  her  uncle's  farm'  the  men  sat  at  night 
with  a  lantern  and  a  dog,  then  again  there  swept  'over  her 
this  passionate  confusion  between  the  vision  world  and  the 
weekday  world.  Again  she  felt  Jesus  in  the  countryside. 
Ah,  he  would  lift  up  the  lambs  in  his  arms!  Ah,  and  she 
was  the  lamb.  Again,  in  the  morning,  going  down  the  lane, 
she  heard  the  ewe  call,  and  the  lambs  came  running,  shaking 
and  twinkling  with  new-born  bliss.  And  she  saw  them  stoop- 


270  THE  RAINBOW 

ing,  nuzzling,  groping  to  the  udder,  to  find  the  teats,  whilst 
the  mother  turned  her  head  gravely  and  sniffed  her  own. 
And  they  were  sucking,  vibrating  with  bliss  on  their  little, 
long  legs,  their  throats  stretched  up,  their  new  bodies  quiver- 
ing to  the  stream  of  blood-warm,  loving  milk. 

Oh,  and  the  bliss,  the  bliss!  She  could  scarcely  tear  her- 
self away  to  go  to  school.  The  little  noses  nuzzling  at  the 
udder,  the  little  bodies  so  glad  and  sure,  the  little  black  legs 
crooked,  the  mother  standing  still,  yielding  herself  to  thei] 
quivering  attraction  —  then  the  mother  walked  calmly  away. 

Jesus  —  the  vision  world  —  the  everyday  world  —  all  mixec 
inextricably  in  a  confusion  of  pain  and  bliss.  It  was  almos 
agony,  the  confusion,  the  inextricability.  Jesus,  the  vision 
speaking  to  her,  who  was  non-visionary!  And  she  woulc 
take  his  words  of  the  spirit  and  make  them  to  pander  to  her 
own  carnality. 

This  was  a  shame  to  her.  The  confusing  of  the  spirit  worlc 
with  the  material  world,  in  her  own  soul,  degraded  her.  She 
answered  the  call  of  the  spirit  in  terms  of  immediate,  every- 
day desire. 

"Come  unto  me,  all  ye  that  labour  and  are  heavy-laden, 
and  I  will  give  you  rest/' 

It  was  the  temporal  answer  she  gave.  She  leapt  with 
sensuous  yearning  to  respond  to  Christ.  If  she  could  go  to 
him  really,  and  lay  her  head  on  his  breast,  to  have  comfort, 
to  be  made  much  of,  caressed  like  a  child ! 

All  the  time  she  walked  in  a  confused  heat  of  religious 
yearning.  She  wanted  Jesus  to  love  her  deliciously,  to  take 
her  sensuous  offering,  to  give  her  sensuous  response.  For 
weeks  she  went  in  a  muse  of  enjoyment. 

And  all  the  time  she  knew  underneath  that  she  was  play- 
ing false,  accepting  the  passion  of  Jesus  for  her  own  physical 
satisfaction.  But  she  was  in  such  a  daze,  such  a  tangle. 
How  could  she  get  free? 

She  hated  herself,  she  wanted  to  trample  on  herself,  destroy 
herself.  How  could  one  become  free?  She  hated  religion, 
because  it  lent  itself  to  her  confusion.  She  abused  everything. 
She  wanted  to  become  hard,  indifferent,  brutally  callous  to 
everything  but  just  the  immediate  need,  the  immediate  satis- 
faction. To  have  a  yearning  towards  Jesus,  only  that  she 
might  use  him  to  pander  to  her  own  soft  sensation,  use  him  as 
a  means  of  re-acting  upon  herself,  maddened  her  in  the  end. 


FIRST  LOVE  271 

There  was  then  no  Jesus,  no  sentimentality.  With  all  the 
bitter  hatred  of  helplessness  she  hated  sentimentality. 

At  this  period  came  the  young  Skrebensky.  She  was  nearly 
sixteen  years  old.  a  slim,  smouldering  girl,  deeply  reticent, 
yet  lapsing  into  unreserved  expansiveness  now  and  then,  when 
she  seemed  to  giv^  away  her  whole  soul,  but  when  in  fact 
she  only  made  another  counterfeit  of  her  soul  for  outward 
presentation.  She  was  sensitive  in  the  extreme,  always  tor- 
tured, always  affecting  a  callous  indifference  to  screen  her- 
"self. 

She  was  at  this  time  a  nuisance  on  the  face  of  the  earth, 
with  her  spasmodic  passion  and  her  slumberous  torment. 
She  seemed  to  go  with  all  her  soul  in  her  hands,  yearning, 
to  the  other  person.  Yet  all  the  while,  deep  at  the  bottom 
of  her  was  a  childish  antagonism  of  distrust.  She  thought 
she  loved  everybody  and  believed  in  everybody.  But  be- 
cause she  could  not  love  herself  nor  believe  in  herself,  she 
mistrusted  everybody  with  the  mistrust  of  a  serpent  or  a  cap- 
tured bird.  Her  starts  of  revulsion  and  hatred  were  more 
inevitable  than  her  impulses  to  love. 

So  she  wrestled  through  her  dark  days  of  confusion,  soul- 
less, uncreated,  unformed. 

One  evening,  as  she  was  studying  in  the  parlour,  her  head 
buried  in  her  hands,  she  heard  new  voices  in  the  kitchen  speak- 
ing. At  once,  from  its  apathy,  her  excitable  spirit  started  and 
strained  to  listen.  It  seemed  to  crouch,  to  lurk  under  cover, 
tense,  glaring  forth  unwilling  to  be  seen. 

There  were  two  strange  men's  voices,  one  soft  and  candid, 
veiled  with  soft  candour,  the  other  veiled  with  easy  mobility, 
running  quickly.  Ursula  sat  quite  tense,  shocked  out  of  her 
studies,  lost.  She  listened  all  the  time  to  the  sound  of  the 
voices,  scarcely  heeding  the  words. 

The  first  speaker  was  her  Uncle  Tom.  She  knew  the  naive 
candour  covering  the  girding  and  savage  misery  of  his  soul. 
Who  was  the  other  speaker?  Whose  voice  ran  on  so  easy, 
yet  with  an  inflamed  pulse?  It  seemed  to  hasten  and  urge 
her  forward,  that  other  voice. 

"  I  remember  you/'  the  young  man's  voice  was  saying.  "  I 
remember  you  from  the  first  time  I  saw  you,  because  of  your 
dark  eyes  and  fair  face." 

Mrs.  Brangwen  laughed,  shy  and  pleased. 

"  You  were  a  curly-headed  little  lad,"  she  said. 


272  THE  RAINBOW 

"Was  I?  Yes,  I  know.  They  were  very  proud  of  my 
curls." 

And  a  laugh  ran  to  silence. 

"You  were  a  very  well-mannered  lad,  I  remember,"  said 
her  father. 

"  Oh !  did  I  ask  you  to  stay  the  night  ?  I  always  used 
to  ask  people  to  stay  the  night.  I  believe  it  was  rather  try- 
ing for  my  mother." 

There  was  a  general  laugh.     Ursula  rose.     She  had  to  go. 

At  the  click  of  the  latch  everybody  looked  round.  Tl 
girl  hung  in  the  doorway,  seized  with  a  moment's  fierce  con- 
fusion. She  was  going  to  be  good-looking.  Now  she  had  ai 
attractive  gawkiness,  as  she  hung  a  moment,  not  knowing 
how  to  carry  her  shoulders.  Her  dark  hair  was  tied  behin( 
her  yellow-brown  eyes  shone  without  direction.  Behind  her, 
in  the  parlour,  was  the  soft  light  of  a  lamp  upon  open  books. 

A  superficial  readiness  took  her  to  her  Uncle  Tom,  whc 
kissed  her,  greeting  her  with  warmth,  making  a  show  of  inti- 
mate possession  of  her,  and  at  the  same  time  leaving  evidenl 
his  own  complete  detachment. 

But  she  wanted  to  turn  to  the  stranger.  He  was  standing 
back  a  little,  waiting.  He  was  a  young  man  with  very  cleai 
gre}rish  eyes  that  waited  until  they  were  called  upon,  before 
they  took  expression. 

Something  in  his  self-possessed  waiting  moved  her,  and 
she  brojve  into  a  confused,  rather  beautiful  laugh  as  she  gave 
him  her  hand,  catching  her  breath  like  an  excited  child.  His 
hand  closed  over  hers  very  close,  very  near,  he  bowed,  and 
his  eyes  were  watching  her  with  some  attention.  She  felt 
proud  —  her  spirit  leapt  to  life. 

"You  don't  know  Mr.  Skrebensky,  Ursula,"  came  her 
Uncle  Tom's  intimate  voice.  She  lifted  her  face  with  an 
impulsive  flash  to  the  stranger,  as  if  to  declare  a  knowledge, 
laughing  her  palpitating,  excited  laugh. 

His  eyes  became  confused  with  roused  lights,  his  detached 
attention  changed  to  a  readiness  for  her.  He  was  a  young 
man  of  twenty-one,  with  a  slender  figure  and  soft  brown  hair 
brushed  up  in  the  German  fashion  straight  from  his  brow. 

"  Are  you  staying  long  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  I've  got  a  month's  leave,"  he  said,  glancing  at  Tom 
Brangwen.  "But  I've  various  places  I  must  go  to  —  put  in 
some  time  here  and  there." 

He  brought  her  a  strong  sense  of  the  outer  world.     It  was 


FIRST  LOVE  273 

as  if  she  were  set  on  a  hill  atid  could  feel  vaguely  the  whole 
world  lying  spread  before  her. 

"  What  have  you  a  month's  leave  from  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  I'm  in  the  Engineers  —  in  the  Army." 

"  Oh !  "  she  exclaimed,  glad. 

"We're  taking  you  away  from  your  studies/'  said  her 
Uncle  Tom. 

"  Oh,  no,"  she  replied  quickly. 

Skrebensky  laughed,  young  and  inflammable. 

"  She  won't  wait  to  be  taken  away,"  said  her  father.  But 
that  seemed  clumsy.  She  wished  he  would  leave  her  to  say 
her  own  things. 

"  Don't  you  like  study  ?  "  asked  Skrebensky,  turning  to  her, 
putting  the  question  from  his  own  case. 

"  I  like  some  things,"  said  Ursula.  "  I  like  Latin  and 
French  —  and  grammar." 

He  watched  her,  and  all  his  being  seemed  attentive  to  her, 
then  he  shook  his  head. 

"  I  don't,"  he  said.  "  They  say  all  the  brains  of  the  army 
are  in  the  Engineers.  I  think  that's  why  I  joined  them  — 
to  get  the  credit  of  other  people's  brains." 

He  said  this  quizzically  and  with  chagrin.  And  she  be- 
came alert  to  him.  It  interested  her.  Whether  he  had  brains 
or  not,  he  was  interesting.  His  directness  attracted  her,  his 
independent  motion.  She  was  aware  of  the  movement  of  his 
life  over  against  her. 

"  I  don't  think  brains  matter,"  she  said. 

"  What  does  matter  then  ? "  came  her  Uncle  Tom's  in- 
timate, caressing,  half-jeering  voice. 

She  turned  to  him. 

"It  matters  whether  people  have  courage  or  not,"  she  said. 

"  Courage  for  what  ?  "  asked  her  uncle. 

"  For  everything." 

Tom  Brangwen  gave  a  sharp  little  laugh.  The  mother 
and  father  sat  silent,  with  listening  faces.  Skrebensky 
waited.  She  was  speaking  for  him. 

"  Everything's  nothing,"  laughed  her  uncle. 

She  disliked  him  at  that  moment. 

"  She  doesn't  practise  what  she  preaches,"  said  her  father, 
stirring  in  his  chair  and  crossing  one  leg  over  the  other. 
"  She  has  courage  for  mighty  little." 

But  she  would  not  answer.  Skrebensky  sat  still,  waiting. 
His  face  was  irregular,  almost  ugly,  flattish,  with  a  rather 


274  THE  RAINBOW 

thick  nose.  But  his  eyes  were  pellucid,  strangely  clear,  his 
brown  hair  was  soft  and  thick  as  silk,  he  had  a  slight  mous- 
tache. His  skin  was  fine,  his  figure  slight,  beautiful.  Be- 
side him,  her  Uncle  Tom  looked  full-blown,  her  father  seemed 
uncouth.  Yet  he  reminded  her  of  her  father,  only  he  was 
finer,  and  he  seemed  to  be  shining.  And  his  face  was  almost 


He  seemed  simply  acquiescent  in  the  fact  of  his  own  be- 
ing, as  if  he  were  beyond  any  change  or  question.  He  was 
himself.  There  was  a  sense  of  fatality  about  him  that  fasci- 
aated  her.  He  made  no  effort  to  prove  himself  to  other  peo- 
ple. Let  it  be  accepted  for  .what  it  was,  his  own  being.  In 
its  isolation  it  made  no  excuse  or  explanation  for  itself. 

So  he  seemed  perfectly,  even  fatally  established,  he  did 
not  ask  to  be  rendered  before  he  could  exist,  before  he  could 
have  relationship  with  another  person. 

This  attracted  Ursula  very  much.  She  was  so  used  to 
unsure  people  who  took  on  a  new  being  with  every  new  in- 
fluence. Her  Uncle  Tom  was  always  more  or  less  what  the 
other  person  would  have  him.  In  consequence,  one  never 
knew  the  real  Uncle  Tom,  only  a  fluid,  unsatisfactory  flux 
with  a  more  or  less  consistent  appearance. 

But,  let  Skrebensky  do  what  he  would,  betray  himself  en- 
tirely, he  betrayed  himself  always  upon  his  own  responsi- 
bility. He  permitted  no  question  about  himself.  He  was 
irrevocable  in  his  isolation. 

So  Ursula  thought  him  wonderful,  he  was  so  finely  con- 
stituted, and  so  distinct,  self-contained,  self-supporting. 
This,  she  said  to  herself,  was  a  gentleman,  he  had  a  nature 
like  fate,  the  nature  of  an  aristocrat. 

She  laid  hold  of  him  at  once  for  her  dreams.  Here  was 
one  such  as  those  Sons  of  God  who  saw  the  daughters  of 
men,  that  they  were  fair.  He  was  no  son  of  Adam.  Adam 
was  servile.  Had  not  Adam  been  driven  cringing  out  of  his 
native  place,  had  not  the  human  race  been  a  beggar  ever 
since,  seeking  its  own  being?  But  Anton  Skrebensky  could 
not  beg.  He  was  in  possession  of  himself,  of  that,  and  no 
more.  Other  people  could  not  really  give  him  anything  noi 
take  anything  from  him.  His  soul  stood  alone. 

She  knew  that  her  mother  and  father  acknowledged  hii 
The  house  was  changed.  There  had  been  a  visit  paid  to  tl 
house.  Once  three  angels  stood  in  Abraham's  doorway,  i 


FIRST  LOVE      ,  275 

greeted  him,  and  stayed  and  ate  with  him,  leaving  his  house- 
hold enriched  for  ever  when  they  went. 

The  next  day  she  went  down  to  the  Marsh  according  to 
invitation.  The  two  men  were  not  come  home.  Then,  look- 
ing through  the  window,  she  saw  the  dogcart  drive  up,  and 
Skrebensky  leapt  down.  She  saw  him  draw  himself  together, 
jump,  laugh  to  her  uncle,  who  was  driving,  then  come  to- 
wards her  to  the  house.  He  was  so  spontaneous  and  re- 
vealed in  his  movements.  He  was  isolated  within  his  own 
clear,  fine  atmosphere,  and  as  still  as  if  fated. 

His  resting  in  his  own  fate  gave  him  an  appearance  of  indo- 
lence, almost  of  languor:  he  made  no  exuberant  movement, 
When  he  sat  down,  he  seemed  to  go  loose,  languid. 

"  We  are  a  little  late,"  he  said. 

"  Where  have  you  been  ?  "  ~ 

-"  We  went  to  Derby  to  see  a  friend  of  my  father's." 

"Who?" 

It  was  an  adventure  to  her  to  put  direct  questions  and  get 
plain  answers.  She  knew  she  might  do  it  with  this  man. 

"  Why,  he  is  a  clergyman  too  —  he  is  my  guardian  —  one 
of  them." 

Ursula  knew  that  Skrebensky  was  an  orphan. 

"  Where  is  really  your  home  now  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  My  home  ?  —  I  wonder.  I  am  very  fond  of  my  colonel  — 
Colonel  Hepburn :  then  there  are  my  aunts :  but  my  real  home, 
I  suppose,  is  the  army." 

"  Do  you  like  being  on  your  own  ?  " 

His  clear,  greenish-grey  eyes  rested  on  her  a  moment,  and, 
as  he  considered,  he  did  not  see  her. 

"  I  suppose  so,"  he  said.  "  You  see  my  father  —  well,  he 
was  never  acclimatized  here.  He  wanted  —  I  don't  know 
what  he  wanted  —  but  it  was  a  strain.  And  my  mother  —  I 
always  knew  she  was  too  good  to  me.  I  could  feel  her  being 
too  good  to  me  —  my  mother !  Then  I  went  away  to  school 
so  early.  And  I  must  say,  the  outside  world  was  always  more 
naturally  a  home  to  me  than  the  vicarage  —  I  don't  know 
•why." 

"  Do  you  feel  like  a  bird  blown  out  of  its  own  latitude  ?  " 
she  asked,  using  a  phrase  she  had  met. 

"  No,  no.     I  find  everything  very  much  as  I  like  it." 

He  seemed  more  and  more  to  give  her  a  sense  of  the  vast 
world,  a  sense  of  distances  and  large  masses  of  humanity. 


276  THE  RAINBOW 

It  drew  her  as  a  scent  draws  a  bee  from  afar.     But  also  it  hurt 
her. 

It  was  summer,  and  she  wore  cotton  frocks.  The  third 
time  he  saw  her  she  had  on  a  dress  with  fine  blue-and-white 
stripes,  with  a  white  collar,  and  a  large  white  hat.  It  suited 
her  golden,  warm  complexion. 

"  I  like  you  best  in  that  dress,"  he  said,  standing  with  his 
head  slightly  on  one  side,  and  appreciating  her  in  a  perceiv- 
ing, critical  fashion. 

She  was  thrilled  with  a  new  life.  For  the  first  time  she 
was  in  love  with  a  vision  of  herself :  she  saw  as  it  were  a 
fine  little  reflection  of  herself  in  his  eyes.  And  she  must  act 
up  to  this :  she  must  be  beautiful.  Her  thoughts  turned 
swiftly  to  clothes,  her  passion  was  to  make  a  beautiful  appear- 
ance. Her  family  looked  on  in  amazement  at  the  sudden 
transformation  of  Ursula.  She  became  elegant,  really  elegant, 
in  figured  cotton  frocks  she  made  for  herself,  and  hats  she 
bent  to  her  fancy.  An  inspiration  was  upon  her. 

He  sat  with  a  sort  of  languor  in  her  grandmother's  rock- 
ing-chair, rocking  slowly,  languidly,  backward  and  forward, 
as  Ursula  talked  to  him. 

"  You  are  not  poor,  are  you  ?  "  she  said. 

"Poor  in  money?  I  have  about  a  hundred  and  fifty  a 
/ear  of  my  own  —  so  I  am  poor  or  rich,  as  you  like.  I  am 
poor  enough,  in  fact/' 

"  But  you  will  earn  money  ?  " 

<e  I  shall  have  my  pay  —  I  have  my  pay  now.  I've  got 
my  commission.  That  is  another  hundred  and  fifty." 

"  You  will  have  more,  though  ?  " 

"I  shan't  have  more  than  £200  a  year  for  ten  years  to 
come.  I  shall  always  be  poor,  if  I  have  to  live  on  my  pay." 

"Do  you  mind  it?" 

"Being  poor?  Not  now  —  not  very  much.  I  may  later. 
People  —  the  officers,  are  good  to  me.  Colonel  Hepburn  has 
a  sort  of  fancy  for  me  —  he  is  a  rich  man,  I  suppose." 

A  chill  went  over  Ursula.  Was  he  going  to  sell  himself  in 
some  way? 

"Is  Colonel  Hepburn  married?" 

"Yes  —  with  two  daughters." 

But  she  was  too  proud  at  once  to  care  whether  Colon* 
Hepburn's  daughter  wanted  to  marry  him  or  not. 

There  came  a  silence.     Gudrun  entered,  and   Skrebem 
still  rocked  languidly  on  the  chair. 


FIRST  LOVE  277 

"You  look  very  lazy,"  said  Gudrun. 

"  I  am  lazy/'  he  answered. 

"  You  look  really  floppy,"  she  said. 

"  I  am  floppy,"  he  answered. 

"  Can't  you  stop  ?  "  asked  Gudrun. 

"  No  —  it's  the  perpetuum  mobile/' 

"  You  look  as  if  you  hadn't  a  bone  in  your  body." 

"  That's  how  I  like  to  feel." 

"  I  don't  admire  your  taste." 

i(  That's  my  misfortune." 

And  he  rocked  on. 

Gudrun  seated  herself  behind  him,  and  as  he  rocked  back, 
she  caught  his  hair  between  her  finger  and  thumb,  so  that 
it  tugged  him  as  he  swung  forward  again.  He  took  no 
notice.  There  was  only  the  sound  of  the  rockers  on  the  floor. 
In  silence,  like  a  crab,  Gudrun  caught  a  strand  of  his  hair 
each  time  he  rocked  back.  Ursula  flushed,  and  sat  in  some 
pain.  She  saw  the  irritation  gathering  on  his  brow. 

At  last  he  leapt  up,  suddenly,  like  a  steel  spring  going  off, 
and  stood  on  the  hearthrug. 

"  Damn  it,  why  can't  I  rock  ?  "  he  asked  petulantly,  fiercely. 

Ursula  loved  him  for  his  sudden,  steel-like  start  out  of  the 
languor.  He  stood  on  the  hearthrug  fuming,  his  eyes  gleam- 
ing with  anger. 

Gudrun  laughed  in  her  deep,  mellow  fashion. 

"  Men  don't  rock  themselves,"  she  said. 

"  Girls  don't  pull  men's  hair/'  he  said. 

Gudrun  laughed  again. 

Ursula  sat  amused,  but  waiting.  And  he  knew  Ursula  was 
waiting  for  him.  It  roused  his  blood.  He  had  to  go  to  her, 
to  follow  her  call. 

Once  he  drove  her  to  Derby  in  the  dog-cart.  He  belonged 
to  the  horsey  set  of  the  sappers.  They  had  lunch  in  an  inn, 
and  went  through  the  market,  pleased  with  everything.  He 
bought  her  a  copy  of  "  Wuthering  Heights  "  from  a  bookstall. 
Then  they  found  a  little  fair  in  progress  and  she  said, 

"  My  father  used  to  take  me  in  the  swingboats." 

"  Did  you  like  it?  "  he  asked. 

"  Oh,  it  was  fine,"  she  said. 

"  Would  you  like  to  go  now  ?  " 

"  Love  it,"  she  said,  though  she  was  afraid.  But  the  pros- 
pect  of  doing  an  unusual,  exciting  thing  was  attractive  to  her. 

He  went  straight  to  the  stand,  paid  the  money,  and  helped 


278  THE  RAINBOW 

her  to  mount.  He  seemed  to  ignore  everything  but  just 
what  he  was  doing.  Other  people  were  mere  objects  of  in- 
difference to  him.  She  would  have  liked  to  hang  back,  but 
she  was  more  ashamed  to  retreat  from  him  than  to  expose 
herself  to  the  crowd  or  to  dare  the  swingboat.  His  eyes 
laughed,  and  standing  before  her  with  his  sharp,  sudden  figure, 
he  set  the  boat  swinging.  She  was  not  afraid,  she  was 
thrilled.  His  colour  flushed,  his  eyes  shone  with  a  roused 
light,  and  she  looked  up  at  him,  her  face  like  a  flower  in  the 
sun,  so  bright  and  attractive.  So  they  rushed  through  the 
bright  air,  up  at  the  sky  as  if  flung  from  a  catapult,  then  fall- 
ing terribly  back.  She  loved  it.  The  motion  seemed  to  fan 
their  blood  to  fire,  they  laughed,  feeling  like  flames. 

After  the  swingboats,  they  went  on  the  roundabouts  to 
calm  down,  he  twisting  astride  on  his  jerky  wooden  steed  to- 
wards her,  and  always  seeming  at  his  ease,  enjoying  himself. 
A  zest  of  antagonism  to  the  convention  made  him  fully  him- 
self. As  they  sat  on  the  whirling  carousal,  with  the  music 
grinding  out,  she  was  aware  of  the  people  on  the  earth  out- 
side, and  it  seemed  that  he  and  she  were  riding  carelessly 
over  the  faces  of  the  crowd,  riding  forever  buoyantly,  proudly, 
gallantly  over  the  upturned  faces  of  the  crowd,  moving  on  a 
high  level,  spurning  the  common  mass. 

When  they  must  descend  and  walk  away,  she  was  un- 
happy, feeling  like  a  giant  suddenly  cut  down  to  ordinary 
level,  at  the  mercy  of  the  mob. 

They  left  the  fair,  to  return  for  the  dog-cart.  Passing  the 
large  church,  Ursula  must  look  in.  But  the  whole  interior 
was  filled  with  scaffolding,  fallen  stone  and  rubbish  were 
heaped  on  the  floor,  bits  of  plaster  crunched  underfoot,  and 
the  place  re-echoed  to  the  calling  of  secular  voices  and  to 
blows  of  the  hammer. 

She  had  come  to  plunge  in  the  utter  gloom  and  peace  for 
a  moment,  bringing  all  her  yearning,  that  had  returned  on 
her  uncontrolled  after  the  reckless  riding  over  the  face  of 
the  crowd,  in  the  fair.  After  pride,  she  wanted  comfort, 
solace,  for  pride  and  scorn  seemed  to  hurt  her  most  of  all. 

And  she  found  the  immemorial  gloom  full  of  bits  of  falling 
plaster,  and  dust  of  floating  plaster,  smelling  of  old  lime 
having  scaffolding  and  rubbish  heaped  about,  dust  cloths  ovei 
the  altar. 

"  Let  us  sit  down  a  minute,"  she  said. 

They  sat  unnoticed  in  the  back  pew,  in  the  gloom,  and 


FIRST  LOVE  279 

she  watched  the  dirty,  disorderly  work  of  bricklayers  and 
plasterers.  Workmen  in  heavy  boots  walked  grinding  down 
the  aisles,  calling  out  in  a  vulgar  accent : 

"  Hi,  mate,  has  them  corner  mouldin's  come  ?  " 

There  were  shouts  of  coarse  answer  from  the  roof  of  the, 
church.     The  place  echoed  desolate. 

Skrebensky  sat  close  to  her.  Everything  seemed  wonder- 
ful, if  dreadful,  to  her,  the  world  tumbling  into  ruins,  and 
she  and  he  clambering  unhurt,  lawless  over  the  face  of  it  all. 
He  sat  close  to  her,  touching  her,  and  she  was  aware  of  his 
influence  upon  her.  But  she  was  glad.  It  excited  her  to 
feel  the  press  of  him  upon  her,  as  if  his  being  were  urging 
her  to  something. 

As  they  drove  home,  ,he  sat  near  to  her.  And  when  he 
swayed  to  the  cart,  he  swayed  in  a  voluptuous,  lingering  way, 
against  her,  lingering  as  he  swung  away  to  recover  balance. 
Without  speaking,  he  took  her  hand  across,  under  the  wrap, 
and  with  his  unseeing  face  lifted  to  the  road,  his  soul  intent, 
he  began  with  his  one  hand  to  unfasten  the  buttons  of  her 
glove,  to  push  back  her  glove  from  her  hand,  carefully  laying 
bare  her  hand.  And  the  close-working,  instinctive  subtlety 
of  his  fingers  upon  her  hand  sent  the  young  girl  mad  with 
voluptuous  delight.  His  hand  was  so  wonderful,  intent  as 
a  living  creature  skilfully  pushing  and  manipulating  in  the 
dark  underworld,  removing  her  glove  and  laying  bare  her 
palm,  her  fingers.  Then  his  hand  closed  over  hers,  so  firm, 
so  close,  as  if  the  flesh  knitted  to  one  thing  his  hand  and 
hers.  Meanwhile  his  face  watched  the  road  and  the  ears  of 
the  horse,  he  drove  with  steady  attention  through  the  villages, 
and  she  sat  beside  him,  rapt,  glowing,  blinded  with  a  new 
light.  Neither  of  them  spoke.  In  outward  attention  they 
were  entirely  separate.  But  between  them  was  the  com- 
pact of  his  flesh  with  hers,  in  the  hand-clasp. 

Then,  in  a  strange  voice,  affecting  nonchalance  and  super- 
ficiality he  said  to  her : 

"  Sitting  in  the  church  there  reminded  me  of  Ingram." 

"Who  is  Ingram?"  she  asked. 

She  also  affected  calm  superficiality.  But  she  knew  that 
something  forbidden  was  coming. 

"  He  is  one  of  the  other  men  with  me  down  at  Chatham 
—  a  subaltern  —  but  a  year  older  than  I  am." 

"  And  why  did  the  church  remind  you  of  him  ?  " 

"  Well,  he  had  a  girl  in  Eochester,  and  they  always  sat  in 


280  THE  RAINBOW 

a  particular  corner  in  the  cathedral  for  their  love-making." 

"  How  nice !  "  she  cried,  impulsively. 

They  misunderstood  each  other. 

<e  It  had  its  disadvantages  though.  The  verger  made  a 
row  about  it." 

"  What  a  shame !     Why  shouldn't  they  sit  in  a  cathedral?  " 

"  I  suppose  they  all  think  it  a  profanity  —  except  you  and 
Ingram  and  the  girl." 

"  I  don't  think  it  a  profanity  —  I  think  it's  right,  to  make 
love  in  a  cathedral." 

She  said  this  almost  defiantly,  in  despite  of  her  own  soul. 

He  was  silent. 

"  And  was  she  nice  ?  " 

"Who?  Emily?  Yes,  she  was  rather  nice.  She  was 
milliner,  and  she  wouldn't  be  seen  in  the  streets  with  Ingram 
It  was  rather  sad,  really,  because  the  verger  spied  on  them, 
and  got  to  know  their  names  and  then  made  a  regular  row. 
It  was  a  common  tale  afterwards." 

"What  did  she  do?" 

"  She  went  to  London,  into  a  big  shop.  Ingram  still  goes 
up  to  see  her." 

"Does  he  love  her?" 

"  It's  a  year  and  a  half  he's  been  with  her  now." 

"What  was  she -like?" 

"Emily?  Little,  shy-violet  sort  of  girl  with  nice  eye- 
brows." 

Ursula  meditated  this.  It  seemed  like  real  romance  of 
the  outer  world. 

"  Do  all  men  have  lovers  ? "  she  asked;  amazed  at  her 
own  temerity.  But  her  hand  was  still  fastened  with  his,  and 
his  face  still  had  the  same  unchanging  fixity  of  outward  calm. 

"  They're  always  mentioning  some  amazing  fine  woman  or 
other,  and  getting  drunk  to  talk  about  her.  Most  of  them 
dash  up  to  London  the  moment  they  are  free." 

"What  for?" 

"To  some  amazing  fine  woman  or  other." 

"What  sort  of  woman?" 

"  Various.  Her  name  changes  pretty  frequently,  as  a  rule. 
One  of  the  fellows  is  a  perfect  maniac.  He  keeps  a  suit-case 
always  ready,  and  the  instant  he  is  at  liberty,  he  bolts  with  it 
to  the  station,  and  changes  in  the  train.  No  matter  who  is 
in  the  carriage,  off  he  whips  his  tunic,  and  performs  at  least 
the  top  half  of  his  toilet." 


FIRST  LOVE  281 

Ursula  quivered  and  wondered. 

"  Why  is  he  in  such  a  hurry  ?  "  she  asked. 

Her  throat  was  becoming  hard  and  difficult. 

"  He's  got  a  woman  in  his  mind,  I  suppose." 

She  was  chilled,  hardened.  And  yet  this  world  of  passions 
and  lawlessness  was  fascinating  to  her.  It  seemed  to  her  a 
splendid  recklessness.  Her  adventure  in  life  was  beginning. 
It  seemed  very  splendid. 

That  evening  she  stayed  at  the  Marsh  till  after  dark,  and 
Skrebensky  escorted  her  home.  For  she  could  not  go  away 
from  him.  And  she  was  waiting,  waiting  for  something 
more. 

In  the  warm  of  the  early  night,  with  the  shadows  new  about 
them,  she  felt  in  another,  harder,  more  beautiful,  less  personal 
world.  Now  a  new  state  should  come  to  pass. 

He  walked  near  to  her,  and  with  the  same  silent,  intent 
approach  put  his  arm  round  her  waist,  and  softly,  very  softly, 
drew  her  to  him,  till  his  arm  was  hard  and  pressed  in  upon 
her;  she  seemed  to  be  carried  along,  floating,  her  feet  scarce 
touching  the  ground,  borne  upon  the  firm,  moving  surface 
of  his  body,  upon  whose  side  she  seemed  to  lie,  in  a  delicious 
swoon  of  motion.  And  whilst  she  swooned,  his  face  bent 
nearer  to  her,  her  head  was  leaned  on  his  shoulder,  she  felt  his 
warm  breath  on  her  face.  Then  softly,  oh  softly,  so  softly 
that  she  seemed  to  faint  away,  his  lips  touched  her  cheek,  and 
she  drifted  through  strands  of  heat  and  darkness. 

Still  she  waited,  in  her  swoon  and  her  drifting,  waited, 
like  the  Sleeping  Beauty  in  the  story.  She  waited,  and  again 
his  face  was  bent  to  hers,  his  lips  came  warm  to  her  face,  their 
footsteps  lingered  and  ceased,  they  stood  still  under  the  trees, 
whilst  his  lips  waited  on  her  face,  waited  like  a  butterfly 
that  does  not  move  on  a  flower.  She  pressed  her  breast  a 
little  nearer  to  him,  he  moved,  put  both  his  arms  round  her, 
and  drew  her  close. 

And  then,  in  the  darkness,  he  bent  to  her  mouth,  softly, 
and  touched  her  mouth  with  his  mouth.  She  was  afraid,  she 
lay  still  on  his  arm,  feeling  his  lips  on  her  lips.  She  kept 
still,  helpless.  Then  his  mouth  drew  near,  pressing  open  her 
mouth,  a  hot,  drenching  surge  rose  within  her,  she  opened 
her  lips  to  him,  in  pained,  poignant  eddies  she  drew  him 
nearer,  she  let  him  come  further,  his  lips  came  and  surging, 
surging,  soft,  oh  soft,  yet  oh,  like  the  powerful  surge  of 
water,  irresistible,  till  with  a  little  blind  cry,  she  broke  away. 


282  THE  RAINBOW 

She  heard  him  breathing  heavily,  strangely,  beside  her.  A 
terrible  and  magnificent  sense  of  his  strangeness  possessed 
her.  But  she  shrank  a  little  now,  within  herself.  Hesitat- 
ing, they  continued  to  walk  on,  quivering  like  shadows  under 
the  ash-trees  of  the  hill,  where  her  grandfather  had  walked 
with  his  daffodils  to  make  his  proposal,  and  where  her  mother 
had  gone  with  her  young  husband,  walking  close  upon  him 
as  Ursula  was  now  walking  upon  Skrebensky. 

Ursula  was  aware  of  the  dark  limbs  of  the  trees  stretching 
overhead,  clothed  with  leaves,  and  of  fine  ash-leaves  tressing 
the  summer  night. 

They  walked  with  their  bodies  moving  in  complex  unity, 
close  together.  He  held  her  hand,  and  they  went  the  long 
way  round  by  the  road,  to  be  further.  Always  she  felt  as  if  she 
were  supported  off  her  feet,  as  if  her  feet  were  light  as  little 
breezes  in  motion. 

He  would  kiss  her  again  —  but  not  again  that  night  with 
the  same  deep-reaching  kiss.  She  was  aware  now,  aware  of 
what  a  kiss  might  be.  And  so,  it  was  more  difficult  to  come 
to  him. 

She  went  to  bed  feeling  all  warm  with  electric  warmth,  as 
if  the  gush  of  dawn  were  within  her,  upholding  her.  And 
she  slept  deeply,  sweetly,  oh,  so  sweetly.  In  the  morning  she 
felt  sound  as  an  ear  of  wheat,  fragrant  and  firm  and  full. 

Thej  continued  to  be  lovers,  in  the  first  wondering  state 
of  unrealization.  Ursula  told  nobody;  she  was  entirely  lost 
in  her  own  world. 

Yet  some  strange  affectation  made  her  seek  for  a  spurious 
confidence.  She  had  at  school  a  quiet,  meditative,  serious- 
souled  friend  called  Ethel,  and  to  Ethel  must  Ursula  confide 
the  story.  Ethel  listened  absorbedly,  with  bowed,  unbetray- 
ing  head,  whilst  Ursula  told  her  secret.  Oh,  it  was  so  lovely, 
his  gentle,  delicate  way  of  making  love !  Ursula  talked  like 
a  practised  lover. 

"  Do  you  think,"  asked  Ursula,  "  it  is  wicked  to  let  a  man 
kiss  you  —  real  kisses,  not  flirting  ?  " 

"I  should  think/'  said  Ethel,  "it  depends/' 

"  He  kissed  me  under  the  ash-trees  on  Cossethay  hill  — 
do  you  think  it  was  wrong?" 

"When?" 

"  On  Thursday  night  when  he  was  seeing  me  home  —  bul 

real  kisses  —  real .     He  is  an  officer  in  the  army." 

.  "What  time  was  it?"  asked  the  deliberate  Ethel. 


FIRST  LOVE  283 

"  I  don't  know  —  about  half-past  nine." 

There  was  a  pause. 

"I  think  it's  wrong/'  said  Ethel,  lifting  her  head  with 
impatience.  "  You  don't  know  him." 

She  spoke  with  some  contempt. 

"  Yes,  I  do.  He  is  half  a  Pole,  and  a  Baron  too.  In 
England  he  is  equivalent  to  a  Lord.  My  grandmother  wa? 
his  father's  friend." 

But  the  two  friends  were  hostile.  It  was  as  if  Ursula 
wanted  to  divide  herself  from  her  acquaintances,  in  asserting 
her  connection  with  Anton,  as  she  now  called  him. 

He  came  a  good  deal  to  Cossethay,  because  her  mother 
was  fond  of  him.  Anna  Brangwen  became  something  of  a 
grande  dame  with  Skrebensky,  very  calm,  taking  things  for 
granted. 

"  Aren't  the  children  in  bed  ? "  cried  Ursula  petulantly, 
as  she  came  in  with  the  young  man. 

"  They  will  be  in  bed  in  half  an  hour,"  said  the  mother. 

"  There  is  no  peace,"  cried  Ursula. 

"  The  children  must  live,  Ursula,"  said  her  mother. 

And  Skrebensky  was  against  Ursula  in  this.  Why  should 
she  be  so  insistent? 

But  then,  as  Ursula  knew,  he  did  not  have  the  perpetual 
tyranny  of  young  children  about  him.  He  treated  her 
mother  with  great  courtliness,  to  which  Mrs.  Brangwen  re- 
turned an  easy,  friendly  hospitality.  Something  pleased  the 
girl  in  her  mother's  calm  assumption  of  state.  It  seemed 
impossible  to  abate  Mrs.  Brangwen's  position.  She  could 
never  be  beneath  any  one  in  public  relation.  Between  Brang- 
wen and  Skrebensky  there  was  an  unbridgeable  silence. 
Sometimes  the  two  men  made  a  slight  conversation,  but  there 
was  no  interchange.  Ursula  rejoiced  to  see  her  father  re- 
treating into  himself  against  the  young  man. 

She  was  proud  of  Skrebensky  in  the  house.  His  lounging, 
languorous  indifference  irritated  her  and  yet  cast  a  spell  over 
her.  She  knew  it  was  the  outcome  of  a  spirit  of  laisser-aller 
combined  with  profound  young  vitality.  Yet  it  irritated 
her  deeply. 

Notwithstanding,  she  was  proud  of  him  as  he  lounged  in 
his  lambent  fashion  in  her  home,  he  was  so  attentive  and 
courteous  to  her  mother  and  to  herself  all  the  time.  It  was 
wonderful  to  have  his  awareness  in  the  room.  She  felt  rich 
and  augmented  by  it,  as  if  she  were  the  positive  attraction 


284  THE  RAINBOW 

and  he  the  flow  towards  her.  And  his  courtesy  and  his  agree- 
ment might  be  all  her  mother's,  but  the  lambent  flicker  of 
his  body  was  for  herself.  She  held  it. 

She  must  ever  prove  her  power. 

"  I  meant  to  show  you  my  little  wood-carving,"  she  said. 

"I'm  sure  it's  not  worth  showing,  that/'  said  her  father. 

"  Would  you  like  to  see  it  ?  "  she  asked,  leaning  towards 
the  door. 

And  his  body  had  risen  from  the  chair,  though  his  face 
seemed  to  want  to  agree  with  her  parents. 

"It  is  in  the  shed,"  she  said. 

And  he  followed  her  out  of  the  door,  whatever  his  feelings 
might  be. 

In  the  shed  they  played  at  kisses,  really  played  at  kisses. 
It  was  a  delicious,  exciting  game.  She  turned  to  him,  her 
face  all  laughing,  like  a  challenge.  And  he  accepted  the 
challenge  at  once.  He  twined  his  hand  full  of  her  hair,  and 
gently,  with  his  hand  wrapped  round  with  hair  behind  her- 
head,  gradually  brought  her  face  nearer  to  his,  whilst  she 
laughed  breathless  with  challenge,  and  his  eyes  gleamed  with 
answer,  with  enjoyment  of  the  game.  And  he  kissed  her, 
asserting  his  will  over  her,  and  she  kissed  him  back,  asserting 
her  deliberate  enjoyment  of  him.  Daring  and  reckless  and 
dangerous  they  knew  it  was,  their  game,  each  playing  with 
fire,  not  with  lovt.  A  sort  of  defiance  of  all  the  world  pos- 
sessed her  in  it  —  she  would  kiss  him  just  because  she  wanted 
to.  And  a  dare-devilry  in  him,  like  a  cynicism,  a  cut  at 
everything  he  pretended  to  serve,  retaliated  in  him. 

She  was  very  beautiful  then,  so  wide  opened,  so  radiant, 
so  palpitating,  exquisitely  vulnerable  and  poignantly,  wrongly, 
throwing  herself  to  risk.  It  roused  a  sort  of  madness  in  him. 
Like  a  flower  shaking  and  wide-opened  in  the  sun,  she  tempted 
him  and  challenged  him,  and  he  accepted  the  challenge,  some- 
thing went  fixed  in  him.  And  under  all  her  laughing,  poig- 
nant recklessness  was  the  quiver  of  tears.  That  almost  sen! 
him  mad,  mad  with  desire,  with  pain,  whose  only  issue  was 
through  possession  of  her  body. 

So,  shaken,  afraid,  they  went  back  to  her  parents  in  the 
kitchen,  and  dissimulated.  But  something  was  roused  in 
both  of  them  that  they  could  not  now  allay.  It  intensifiec 
and  heightened  their  senses,  they  were  more  vivid,  anc 
powerful  in  their  being.  But  under  it  all  was  a  poignant 
sense  of  transience.  It  was  a  magnificent  self-assertion  on 


FIRST  LOVE  285 

the  part  of  both  of  them,  he  asserted  himself  before  her, 
he  felt  himself  infinitely  male  and  infinitely  irresistible,  she 
asserted  herself  before  him,  she  knew  herself  infinitely  desir- 
able, and  hence  infinitely  strong.  And  after  all,  what  could 
either  of  them  get  from  such  a  passion  but  a  sense  of  his 
or  of  her  own  maximum  self,  in  contradistinction  to  all  the 
rest  of  life?  Wherein  was  something  finite  and  sad,  for  the 
human  soul  at  its  maximum  wants  a  sense  of  the  infinite. 

Nevertheless,  it  was  begun  now,  this  passion,  and  must  go 
on,  the  passion  of  Ursula  to  know  her  own  maximum  self, 
limited  and  so  defined  against  him.  She  could  limit  and  de- 
fine herself  against  him,  the  male,  she  could  be  her  maxi- 
mum self,  female,  oh  female,  triumphant  for  one  moment 
in  exquisite  assertion  against  the  male,  in  supreme  contra- 
distinction to  the  male. 

The  next  afternoon,  when  he  came,  prowling,  she  went 
with  him  across. to  the  church.  Her  father  was  gradually 
gathering  in  anger  against  him,  her  mother  was  hardening 
in  anger  against  her.  But  the  parents  were  naturally  tolerant 
in  action. 

They  went  together  across  the  churchyard,  Ursula  and 
Skrebensky,  and  ran  to  hiding  in  the  church.  It  was  dimmer 
in  there  than  the  sunny  afternoon  outside,  but  the  mellow 
glow  among  the  bowed  stone  was  very  sweet.  The  windows 
burned  in  ruby  and  in  blue,  they  made  magnificent  arraia 
to  their  bower  of  secret  stone. 

"What  a  perfect  place  for  a  rendezvous''  he  said,  in  a 
hushed  voice,  glancing  round. 

She  too  glanced  round  the  familiar  interior.  The  dimness 
and  stillness  chilled  her.  But  her  eyes  lit  up  with  daring. 
Here,  here  she  would  assert  her  indomitable  gorgeous  female 
self,  here.  Here  she  would  open  her  female  flower  like  a 
flame,  in  this  dimness  that  was  more  passionate  than  light. 

They  hung  apart  a  moment,  then  wilfully  turned  to  each 
other  for  the  desired  contact.  She  put  her  arms  round  him, 
she  cleaved  her  body  to  his,  and  with  her  hands  pressed  upon 
his  shoulders,  on  his  back,  she  seemed  to  feel  right  through 
him,  to  know  his  young,  tense  body  right  through.  And  it 
was  so  fine,  so  hard,  yet  so  exquisitely  subject  and  under  her 
control.  She  reached  him  her  mouth  and  drank  his  full 
kiss,  drank  it  fuller  and  fuller. 

And  it  was  good,  it  was  very,  very  good.  She  seemed  to 
be  filled  with  his  kiss,  filled  as  if  she  had  drunk  strong,  glow- 


286  THE  RAINBOW 

ing  sunshine.  She  glowed  all  inside,  the  sunshine  seemed 
to  beat  upon  her  heart  underneath,  she  had  drunk  so  beau- 
tifully. 

She  drew  away,  and  looked  at.  him  radiant,  exquisitely, 
glowingly  beautiful,  and  satisfied,  but  radiant  as  an  illumined 
cloud. 

To  him  this  was  bitter,  that  she  was  so  radiant  and  satisfied. 
She  laughed  upon  him,  blind  to  him,  so  full  of  her  own  bliss, 
never  doubting  but  that  he  was  the  same  as  she  was.  And. 
radiant  as  an  angel  she  went  with  him  out  of  the  church,  as 
if  her  feet  were  beams  of  light  that  walked  on  flowers  for 
footsteps. 

He  went  beside  her,  his  soul  clenched,  his  body  unsatisfied. 
Was  she  going  to  make  this  easy  triumph  over  him?  For 
him,  there  was  now  no  self -bliss,  only  pain  and  confused 
anger. 

It  was  high  summer,  and  the  hay-harvest  was  almost  over. 
It  would  be  finished  on  Saturday.  On  Saturday,  however, 
Skrebensky  was  going  away.  He  could  not  stay  any  longer. 

Having  decided  to  go  he  became  very  tender  and  loving  to 
her,  kissing  her  gently,  with  such  soft,  sweet,  insidious  close- 
ness that  they  were  both  of  them  intoxicated. 

The  very  last  Friday  of  his  stay  he  met  her  coming  out  of 
school,  and  took  her  to  tea  in  the  town.  Then  he  had  a 
motor-car  to  drive  her  home. 

Her  excitement  at  riding  in  a  motor-car  was  greatest  of 
all.  He  too  was  very  proud  of  this  last  coup.  He  saw 
Ursula  kindle  and  flare  up  to  the  romance  of  the  situation. 
She  raised  her  head  like  a  young  horse  snuffing  with  wild 
delight. 

The  car  swerved  round  a  corner,  and  Ursula  was  swung 
against  Skrebensky.  The  contact  made  her  aware  of  him. 
With  a  swift,  foraging  impulse  she  sought  for  his  hand  and 
clasped  it  in  her  own,  so  close,  so  combined,  as  if  they  were 
two  children. 

The  wind  blew  in  on  Ursula's  face,  the  mud  flew  in  a  soft, 
wild  rush  from  the  wheels,  the  country  was  blackish  green, 
with  the  silver  of  new  hay  here  and  there,  and  masses  of 
trees  under  a  silver-gleaming  sky. 

Her  hand  tightened  on  his  with  a  new  consciousness,  trou-, 
bled.  They  did  not  speak  for  some  time,  but  sat,  hand- 
fast,  with  averted,  shining  faces. 

And  every  now  and  then  the  car  swung  her  against  him. 


FIRST  LOVE  287 

And  they  waited  for  the  motion  to  bring  them  together. 
Yet  they  stared  out  of  the  windows,  mute. 

She  saw  the  familiar  country  racing  by.  But  now,  it  was 
no  familiar  country,  it  was  wonderland.  There  was  the 
Hemlock  Stone  standing  on  its  grassy  hill.  Strange  it  looked 
on  this  wet,  early  summer  evening,  remote,  in  a  magic  land. 
Some  rooks  were  flying  out  of  the  trees. 

Ah,  if  only  she  and  Skrebensky  could  get  out,  dismount 
into  this  enchanted  land  where  nobody  had  ever  been  before ! 
Then  they  would  be  enchanted  people,  they  would  put  off  the 
dull,  customary  self.  If  she  were  wandering  there,  on  that 
hill-slope  under  a  silvery,  changing  sky,  in  which  many  rooks 
melted  like  hurrying  showers  of  blots!  If  they  could  walk 
past  the  wetted  hay-swaths,  smelling  the  early  evening,  and 
pass  in  to  the  wood  where  the  honeysuckle  scent  was  sweet 
on  the  cold  tang  of  the  air,  and  showers  of  drops  fell  when 
one  brushed  a  bough,  cold  and  lovely  on  the  face ! 

But  she  was  here  with  him  in  the  car,  close  to  him,  and 
the  wind  was  rushing  on  her  lifted,  eager  face,  blowing  back 
the  hair.  He  turned  and  looked  at  her,  at  her  face  clean 
as  a  chiselled  thing,  her  hair  chiselled  back  by  the  wind, 
her  fine  nose  keen  and  lifted. 

It  was  agony  to  him,  seeing  her  swift  and  clean-cut  and 
virgin.  He  wanted  to  kill  himself,  and  throw  his  detested 
carcase  at  her  feet.  His  desire  to  turn  round  on  himself  and 
rend  himself  was  an  agony  to  him. 

Suddenly  she  glanced  at  him.  He  seemed  to  be  crouching 
towards  her,  reaching,  he  seemed  to  wince  between  the  brows. 
But  instantly,  seeing  her  lighted  eyes  and  radiant  face,  his 
expression  changed,  his  old  reckless  laugh  shone  to  her.  She 
pressed  his  hand  in  utter  delight,  and  he  abided.  And  sud- 
denly she  stooped  and  kissed  his  hand,  bent  her  head  and 
caught  it  to  her  mouth,  in  generous  homage.  And  the  blood 
burned  in  him.  Yet  he  remained  still,  he  made  no  move. 

She  started.  They  were  swinging  into  Cossethay.  Skre- 
bensky was  going  to  leave  her.  But  it  was  all  so  magic,  her 
cup  was  so  full  of  bright  wine,  her  eyes  could  only  shine. 

He  tapped  and  spoke  to  the  man.  The  car  swung  up  by 
the  yew-trees.  She  gave  him  her  hand  and  said  good-bye, 
naive  and  brief  as  a  schoolgirl.  And  she  stood  watching 
him  go,  her  face  shining.  The  fact  of  his  driving  on  meant 
nothing  to  her,  she  was  so  filled  by  her  own  bright  ecstasy. 
She  did  not  see  him  go,  for  she  was  filled  with  light,  which 


,288  THE  RAINBOW 

was  of  him.     Bright  with  an  amazing  light  as  she  was,  how 
could  she  miss  him? 

In  her  bedroom  she  threw  her  arms  in  the  air  in  clear  pain 
of  magnificence.  Oh,  it  was  her  transfiguration,  she  was  be- 
yond herself.  She  wanted  to  fling  herself  into  all  the  hidden 
brightness  of  the  air.  It  was  there,  it  was  there,  if  she 
could  but  meet  it. 

But  the  next  day  she  knew  he  had  gone.  Her  glory  had 
partly  died  down  —  but  never  f ipm  her  memory.  It  was  too 
real.  Yet  it  was  gone  by,  leaving  a  wistfulness.  A  deeper 
yearning  came  into  her  soul,  a  new  reserve. 

She  shrank  from  touch  and  question.  She  was  very  proud, 
but  very  new,  and  very  sensitive.  Oh,  that  no  one  should 
lay  hands  on  her ! 

She  was  happier  running  on  by  herself.  Oh,  it  was  a  joy 
to  run  along  the  lanes  without  seeing  things,  yet  being  wit! 
them.  It  was  such  a  joy  to  be  alone  with  all  one's  riches. 

The  holidays  came,  when  she  was  free.  She  spent  mos 
of  her  time  running  on  by  herself,  curled  up  in  a  squirrel 
place  in  the  garden,  lying  in  a  hammock  in  the  coppice,  whik 
the  birds  came  near  —  near  —  so  near.  Or,  in  rainy  weather 
she  flitted  to  the  Marsh,  and  lay  hidden  with  her  book  in 
hay-loft. 

All  the  time,  she  dreamed  of  him,  sometimes  definitely 
but  when  she  was  happiest,  only  vaguely.  He  was  the  warm 
colouring  to  her  dreams,  he  was  the  hot  blood  beating  within 
them. 

When  she  was  less  happy,  out  of  sorts,  she  pondered  over 
his  appearance,  his  clothes,  the  buttons  with  his  regimenta 
badge,  which  he  had  given  her.  Or  she  tried  to  imagine  his 
life  in  barracks.  Or  she  conjured  up  a  vision  of  herself  as 
she  appeared  in  his  eyes. 

His  birthday  was  in  August,  and  she  spent  some  pains  on 
making  him  a  cake.  She  felt  that  it  would  not  be  in  gooc 
taste  for  her  to  give  him  a  present. 

Their  correspondence  was  brief,  mostly  an  exchange  oJ 
post-cards,  not  at  all  frequent.  But  with  her  cake  she  musi 
send  him  a  letter. 

"Dear  Anton.  The  sunshine  has  come  back  specially  for 
your  birthday,  I  think. 

"  I  made  the  cake  myself,  and  wish  you  many  happy  returns 


FIRST  LOVE  289 

of  the  day.     Don't  eat  it  if  it  is  not  good.     Mother  hopes  you 
will  come  and  see  us  when  you  are  near  enough. 

"I  am 

"  Your  sincere  friend, 
"  Ursula  Brangwen." 

It  bored  her  to  write  a  letter  even  to  him.  After  all, 
writing  words  on  paper  had  nothing  to  do  with  him  and 
her. 

The  fine  weather  had  set  in,  the  cutting  machine  went  on 
from  dawn  till  sunset,  chattering  round  the  fields.  She 
heard  from  Skrebensky;  he  too  was  on  duty  in  the  country, 
on  Salisbury  Plain,  He  was  now  a  second  lieutenant  in  a 
Field  Troop.  He  would  have  a  few  days  off  shortly,  and 
would  come  to  the  Marsh  for  the  wedding. 

Fred  Brangwen  was  going  to  marry  a  schoolmistress  out 
of  Ilkeston  as  soon  as  corn-harvest  was  at  an  end. 

The  dim  blue-and-gold  of  a  hot,  sweet  autumn  saw  the 
close  of  the  corn-harvest.  To  Ursula,  it  was  as  if  the  world 
had  opened  its  softest  purest  flower,  its  chicory  flower,  its 
meadow  saffron.  The  sky  was  blue  and  sweet,  the  yellow 
leaves  down  the  lane  seemed  like  free,  wandering  flowers 
as  they  chittered  round  the  feet,  making  a  keen,  poignant, 
almost  unbearable  music  to  her  heart.  And  the  scents  of 
autumn  were  like  a  summer  madness  to  her.  She  fled  away 
from  the  little,  purple-red  button-chrysanthemums  like  a 
frightened  dryad,  the  bright  yellow  little  chrysanthemums 
smelled  so  strong,  her  feet  seemed  to  dither  in  a  drunken 
dance. 

Then  her  Uncle  Tom  appeared,  always  like  the  cynical 
Bacchus  in  the  picture.  He  would  have  a  jolly  wedding,  a 
harvest  supper  and  a  wedding  feast  in  one :  a  tent  in  the  home 
close,  and  a  band  for  dancing,  and  a  great  feast  out  of  doors. 

Fred  demurred,  but  Tom  must  be  satisfied.  Also  Laura, 
a  handsome,  clever  girl,  the  bride,  she  also  must  have  a  great 
and  jolly  feast.  It  appealed  to  her  educated  sense.  She 
had  been  to  Salisbury  Training  College,  knew  folk-songs  and 
morris-dancing. 

So  the  preparations  were  begun,  directed  by  Tom  Brangwen. 
A  marquee  was  set  up  on  the  home  close,  two  large  bonfires 
were  prepared.  Musicians  were  hired,  a  feast  made  ready. 

Skrebensky  was  to  come,  arriving  in  the  morning.     Ursula 


290  THE  RAINBOW 

had  a  new  white  dress  of  soft  crape,  and  a  white  hat.  She 
liked  to  wear  white.  With  her  black  hair  and  clear  golden 
skin,  she  looked  southern,  or  rather  tropical,  like  a  Creole. 
She  wore  no  colour  whatsoever. 

She  trembled  that  day  as  she  prepared  to  go  down  to  the 
wedding.  She  was  to  be  a  bridesmaid.  Skrebensky  would 
not  arrive  till  afternoon.  The  wedding  was  at  two  o'clock. 

As  the  wedding-party  returned  home,  Skrebensky  stood 
in  the  parlour  at  the  Marsh.  Through  the  window  he  saw 
Tom'  Brangwen,  who  was  best  man,  coming  up  the  garden 
path  most  elegant  in  cut-away  coat  and  white  slip  and  spats, 
with  Ursula  laughing  on  his  arm.  Tom  Brangwen  was  hand- 
some, with  his  womanish  colouring  and  dark  eyes  and  black 
close-cut  moustache.  But  there  was  something  subtly  coarse 
and  suggestive  about  him  for  all  his  beauty;  his  strange, 
bestial  nostrils  opened  so  hard  and  wide,  and  his  well-shaped 
head  almost  disquieting  in  its  nakedness,  rather  bald  from 
the  front,  and  all  its  soft  fulness  betrayed. 

Skrebensky  saw  the  man  rather  than  the  woman.  She 
was  brilliant,  with  a  curious,  wordless,  distracted  animation 
which  she  always  felt  when  with  her  Uncle  Tom,  always  con- 
fused in  herself. 

But  when  she  met  Skrebensky  everything  vanished.  She 
saw  only  the  slender,  unchangeable  youth  waiting  there  in- 
scrutable, like  her  fate.  He  was  beyond  her,  with  his  loose, 
slightly  horsey  appearance,  that  made  him  seem  very  manly 
and  foreign.  Yet  his  face  was  smooth  and  soft  and  impres- 
sionable. She  shook  hands  with  him,  and  her  voice  was  like 
the  rousing  of  a  bird  startled  by  the  dawn. 

"  Isn't  it  nice/'  she  cried,  "  to  have  a  wedding  ?  " 

There  were  bits  of  coloured  confetti  lodged  in  her  dark 
hair. 

Again  the  confusion  came  over  him,  as  if  he  were  losing 
himself  and  becoming  all  vague,  undefined,  inchoate.  Yet  he 
wanted  to  be  hard,  manly,  horsey.  And  he  followed  her. 

There  was  a  light  tea,  and  the  guests  scattered.  The 
real  feast  was  for  the  evening.  Ursula  walked  out  with  Skre- 
bensky through  the  stackyard  to  the  fields,  and  up  the  em- 
bankment to  the  canal-side. 

The  new  corn-stacks  were  big  and  golden  as  they  went  by, 
an  army  of  white  geese  marched  aside  in  braggart  protest. 
Ursula  was  light  as  a  white  ball  of  down.  Skrebensky  drifted 
beside  her,  indefinite,  his  old  form  loosened^  and  another  self, 


FIRST  LOVE  291 

grey,  vague,  drifting  out  as  from  a  bud.  They  talked  lightly, 
of  nothing. 

The  blue  way  of  the  canal  wound  softly  between  the  autumn 
hedges,  on  towards  the  greenness  of  a  small  hill.  On  the 
left  was  the  whole  black  agitation  of  colliery  and  railway  and 
the  town  which  rose  on  its  hill,  the  church  tower  topping  all. 
The  round  white  dot  of  the  clock  on  the  tower  was  distinct 
in  the  evening  light. 

That  way,  Ursula  felt,  was  the  way  to  London,  through 
the  grim,  alluring  seethe  of  the  town.  On  the  other  hand 
was  the  evening,  mellow  over  the  green  water-meadows  and 
the  winding  alder-trees  beside  the  river,  and  the  pale  stretches 
of  stubble  beyond.  There  the  evening  glowed  softly,  and 
even  a  pee-wit  was  flapping  in  solitude  and  peace. 

Ursula  and  Anton  Skrebensky  walked  along  the  ridge  of 
the  canal  between.  The  berries  on  the  hedges  were  crimson 
and  bright  red,  above  the  leaves.  The  glow  of  evening  and 
the  wheeling  of  the  solitary  pee-wit  and  the  faint  cry  of  the 
birds  came  to  meet  the  shuffling  noise  of  the  pits,  the  dark, 
fuming  stress  of  the  town  opposite,  and  they  two  walked  the 
blue  strip  of  water-way,  the  ribbon  of  sky  between. 

He  was  looking,  Ursula  thought,  very  beautiful,  because 
of  a  flush  of  sunburn  on  his  hands  and  face.  He  was  telling 
her  how  he  had  learned  to  shoe  horses  and  select  cattle  fit  for 
killing. 

"  Do  you  like  to  be  a  soldier  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  I  am  not  exactly  a  soldier,"  he  replied. 

"  But  you  only  do  things  for  wars,"  she  said. 

"  Yes." 

"  Would  you  like  to  go  to  war  ?  " 

"  I  ?  Well,  it  would  be  exciting.  If  there  were  a  war  I 
would  want  to  go." 

A  strange,  distracted  feeling  came  over  her,  a  sense  of 
potent  unrealities. 

"  Why  would  you  want  to  go  ?  " 

"I  should  be  doing  something,  it  would  be  genuine.  It's 
a  sort  of  toy-life  as  it  is." 

"  But  what  would  you  be  doing  if  you  went  to  war  ?  " 

"  I  would  be  making  railways  or  bridges,  working  like  a 
nigger." 

"  But  you'd  only  make  them  to  be  pulled  down  again  when 
the  armies  had  done  with  them.  It  seems  just  as  much  a 
game." 


292  THE  RAINBOW 

"  If  you  call  war  a  game." 

"What  is  it?" 

"  It's  about  the  most  serious  business  there  is,  fighting/' 

A  sense  of  hard  separateness  came  over  her. 

"Why  is  fighting  more  serious  than  anything  else?"  she 
asked. 

"  You  either  kill  or  get  killed  —  and  I  suppose  it  is  serious 
enough,  killing." 

"  But  when  you're  dead  you  don't  matter  any  more,"  she 
said. 

He  was  silenced  for  a  moment. 

"  But  the  result  matters,"  he  said.  "  It  matters  whether 
we  settle  the  Mahdi  or  not." 

"  Not  to  you  —  nor  me  —  we  don't  care  about  Khartoum." 

"You  want  to  have  room  to  live  in:  and  somebody  has  to 
make  room." 

"  But  I  don't  want  to  live  in  the  desert  of  Sahara  —  do 
you  ?  "  she  replied,  laughing  with  antagonism. 

"/  don't  —  but  we've  got  to  back  up  those  who  do." 

"Why  have  we?" 

"  Where  is  the  nation  if  we  don't  ?  " 

"  But  we  aren't  the  nation.  There  are  heaps  of  other 
people  who  are  the  nation." 

"  They  might  say  they  weren't  either." 

"  Well,  if  everybody  said  it,  there  wouldn't  be  a  nation. 
But  I  should  still  be  myself,"  she  asserted  brilliantly. 

"  You  wouldn't  be  yourself  if  there  were  no  nation." 

"Why  not?" 

"  Because  you'd  just  be  a  prey  to  everybody  and  anybody." 

"  How  a  prey  ?  " 

"They'd  come  and  take  everything  you'd  got." 

"Well,  they  couldn't  take  much  even  then.  I  don't  care 
what  they  take.  I'd  rather  have  a  robber  who  carried  me 
off  than  a  millionaire  who  gave  me  everything  you  can 
buy." 

"That's  because  you  are  a  romanticist." 

"  Yes,  I  am.  I  want  to  be  romantic.  I  hate  houses  that 
never  go  away,  and  people  just  living  in  the  houses.  It's 
all  so  stiff  and  stupid.  I  hate  soldiers,  they  are  stiff  and 
wooden.  What  do  you  fight  for,  really?" 

"  I  would  fight  for  the  nation." 

"  For  all  that,  yon  aren't  the  nation.  What  would  you  do 
for  yourself  ?  " 


FIRST  LOVE  293 

"I  belong  to  the  nation  and  must  do  my  duty  by  the  na- 
jfcon." 

"But  when  it  didn't  need  your  services  in  particular  — 
when  there  is  no  fighting?  What  would  you  do  then?" 

He  was  irritated. 

"I  would  do  what  everybody  else  does." 

"What?" 

"  Nothing.  I  would  be  in  readiness  for  when  I  was 
needed." 

The  answer  came  in  exasperation. 

"It  seems  to  me,"  she  answered,  "as  if  you  weren't  any- 
body—  as  if  there  weren't  anybody  there,  where  you  are. 
Are  you  anybody,  really?  You  seem  like  nothing  to  me." 

They  had  walked  till  they  had  reached  a  wharf,  just  above 
a  lock.  There  an  empty  barge,  painted  with  a  red  and 
yellow  cabin  hood,  but  with  a  long,  coal-black  hold,  was  lying 
moored.  A  man,  lean  and  grimy,  was  sitting  on  a  box  against 
the  cabin-side  by  the  door,  smoking,  and  nursing  a  baby  that 
was  wrapped  in  a  drab  shawl,  and  looking  into  the  glow  of 
evening.  A  woman  bustled  out,  sent  a  pail  dashing  into 
the  canal,  drew  her  water,  and  bustled  in  again.  Children's 
voices  were  heard.  A  thin  blue  smoke  ascended  from  the 
cabin  chimney,  there  was  a  smell  of  cooking. 

Ursula,  white  as  a  moth,  lingered  to  look.  Skrebensky 
lingered  by  her.  The  man  glanced  up. 

"  Good  evening,"  he  called,  half  impudent,  half  attracted. 
He  had  blue  eyes  which  glanced  impudently  from  his  grimy 
face. 

"  Good  evening,"  said  Ursula,  delighted.  "  Isn't  it  nice 
now?" 

"  Ay,"  said  the  man,  "  very  nice." 

His  mouth  was  red  under  his  ragged,  sandy  moustache. 
His  teeth  were  white  as  he  laughed. 

"  Oh,  but "  stammered  Ursula,  laughing,  "  it  is.  Why 

do  you  say  it  as  if  it  weren't  ?  " 

"'Appen  for  them  as  is  childt-nursin'  it's  none  so  rosy." 

"  May  I  look  inside  your  barge  ?  "  asked  Ursula. 

"  There's  nobody'll  stop  you ;  you  come  if  you  like." 

The  barge  lay  at  the  opposite  bank,  at  the  wharf.  It  was 
the  Annabel,  belonging  to  J.  Euth  of  Loughborough.  The 
man  watched  Ursula  closely  from  his  keen,  twinkling  eyes. 
His  fair  hair  was  wispy  on  his  grimed  forehead.  Two  dirty 
children  appeared  to  see  who  was  talking. 


294  THE  RAINBOW 

Ursula  glanced  at  the  great  lock  gates.  They  were  shut, 
and  the  water  was  sounding,  spurting  and  trickling  down  in 
the  gloom  beyond.  On  this  side  the  bright  water  was  almost 
to  the  top  of  the  gate.  She  went  boldly  across,  and  round 
to  the  wharf. 

Stooping  from  the  bank,  she  peeped  into  the  cabin,  where 
was  a  red  glow  of  fire  and  the  shadowy  figure  of  a  woman. 
She  did  want  to  go  down. 

"  You'll  mess  your  frock,"  said  the  man,  warningly. 

"  I'll  be  careful,"  she  answered.     "  May  I  come  ?  " 

"  Ay,  come  if  you  like." 

She  gathered  her  skirts,  lowered  her  foot  to  the  side  of 
the  boat,  and  leapt  down,  laughing.  Coal-dust  flew  up. 

The  woman  came  to  the  door.  She  was  plump  and  sandy- 
haired,  young,  with  an  odd,  stubby  nose. 

"  Oh,  you  will  make  a  mess  of  yourself,"  she  cried,  sur- 
prised and  laughing  with  a  little  wonder. 

"  I  did  want  to  see.  Isn't  it  lovely  living  on  a  barge  ?  " 
asked  Ursula. 

"  I  don't  live  on  one  altogether,"  said  the  woman  cheerfully. 

"  She's  got  her  parlour  an'  her  plush  suite  in  Lough- 
borough,"  said  her  husband  with  just  pride. 

Ursula  peeped  into  the  cabin,  where  saucepans  were  boiling 
and  some  dishes  were  on  the"  table.  It  was  very  hot.  Then 
she  came -out  again.  The  man  was  talking  to  the  baby.  It 
was  a  blue-eyed,  fresh-faced  thing  with  floss  of  red-gold  hair. 

"  Is  it  a  boy  or  a  girl  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  It's  a  girl  —  aren't  you  a  girl,  eh  ?  "  he  shouted  at  the 
infant,  shaking  his  head.  Its  little  face  wrinkled  up  into 
the  oddest,  funniest  smile. 

"Oh!"  cried  Ursula.  "Oh,  the  dear!  Oh,  how  nice 
when  she  laughs  !  " 

"  She'll  laugh  hard  enough,"  said  the  father. 

"  What  is  her  name  ?  "  asked  Ursula. 

"  She  hasn't  got  a  name,  she's  not  worth  one,"  said  the 
man.  "Are  you,  you  fag-end  o'  nothing?"  he  shouted  to 
the  baby.  The  baby  laughed. 

"  No,  we've  been  that  busy,  we've  never  took  her  to  th' 
registry  office,"  came  the  woman's  voice.  "  She  was  born 
on  th'  boat  here." 

"  But  you  know  what  you're  going  to  call  her  ? "  asked 
.Ursula. 

"  We  did  think  of  Gladys  Em'ly,"  said  the  mother. 


FIRST  LOVE  295 

"  We  thought  of  nowt  o'  th'  sort,"  said  the  father. 

"  Hark  at  him !  What  do  you  want  ?  "  cried  the  mother 
in  exasperation. 

"  She'll  be  called  Annabel  after  th'  boat  she  was  born  on." 

"She's  not,  so  there,"  said  the  mother,  viciously  defiant. 

The  father  sat  in  -humorous  malice,  grinning. 

"  Well,  you'll  see,"  he  said. 

And  Ursula  could  tell,  by  the  woman's  vibrating  exaspera- 
tion, that  he  would  never  give  way. 

"  They're  all  nice  names,"  she  said.  "  Call  her  Gladys 
Annabel  Emily." 

"  Nay,  that's  heavy-laden,  if  you  like,"  he  answered. 

"You  see!"  cried  the  woman.     "He's  that  pig-headed!" 

"And  she's  so  nice,  and  she  laughs,  and  she  hasn't  even 
got  a  name,"  crooned  Ursula  to  the  child. 

"  Let  me  hold  her,"  she  added. 

He  yielded  her  the  child,  that  smelt  of  babies.  But  it 
had  such  blue,  wide,  china  eyes,  and  it  laughed  so  oddly,  with 
such  a  taking  grimace,  Ursula  loved  it.  She  cooed  and 
talked  to  it.  It  was  such  an  odd,  exciting  child. 

"  What's  your  name  ?  "  the  man  suddenly  asked  of  her. 

"  My  name  is  Ursula  —  Ursula  Brangwen,"  she  replied. 

"Ursula!"  he  exclaimed,  dumfounded. 

"  There  was  a  Saint  Ursula.  It's  a  very  old  name,"  she 
added  hastily,  in  justification. 

"Hey,  mother!"  he  called. 

There  was  no  answer. 

"Pern!"  he  called,  "can't  y'hear?" 

"  What  ?  "  came  the  short  answer. 

"  What  about  <  Ursula '  ?  "  he  grinned. 

"What  about  what?"  came  the  answer,  and  the  woman 
appeared  in  the  doorway,  ready  for  combat. 

"  Ursula  —  it's  the  lass's  name  there,"  he  said,  gently. 

The  woman  looked  the  young  girl  up  and  down.  Evidently 
she  was  attracted  by  her  slim,  graceful,  new  beauty,  her  ef- 
fect of  white  elegance,  and  her  tender  way  of  holding  the 
child. 

"Why,  how  do  you  write  it?"  the  mother  asked,  awk- 
ward now  she  was  touched.  Ursula  spelled  out  her  name. 
The  man  looked  at  the  woman.  A  bright,  confused  flush 
came  over  the  mother's  face,  a  sort  of  luminous  shyness. 

"  It's  not  a  common  name,  is  it ! "  she  exclaimed,  excited 
as  by  an  adventure. 


296  THE  RAINBOW 

"  Are  you  goin'  to  have  it  then  ?  "  he  asked. 

"  I'd  rather  have  it  than  Annabel/7  she  said,  decisively. 

"  An'  I'd  rather  have  it  than  Gladys-  Em'ler,"  he  replied. 

There  was  a  silence,,  Ursula  looked  up. 

"Will  you  really  call  her  Ursula?"  she  asked. 

"Ursula  Kuth,"  replied  the  man,  laughing  vainly,  as 
pleased  as  if  he  had  found  something. 

It  was  now  Ursula's  turn  to  be  confused. 

"  It  does  sound  awfully  nice/'  she  said.  "  I  must  give  her 
something.  And  I  haven't  got  anything  at  all." 

She  stood, in  her  white  dress,  wondering,  down  there  in  the 
barge.  The  lean  man  sitting  near  to  her  watched  her  as  if 
she  were  a  strange  being,  as  if  she  lit  up  his  face.  His  eyes 
smiled  on  her,  boldly,  and  yet  with  exceeding  admiration  un- 
derneath. 

"  Could  I  give  her  my  necklace  ?  "  she  said. 

It  was  the  little  necklace  made  of  pieces  of  amethyst  and 
topaz  and  pearl  and  crystal,  strung  at  intervals  on  a  little 
golden  chain,  which  her  Uncle  Tom  had  given  her.  She  was 
very  fond  of  it.  She  looked  at  it  lovingly,  when  she  had 
taken  it  from  her  neck. 

"  Is  it  valuable  ?  "  the  man  asked  her,  curiously. 

"  I  think  so/'  she  replied. 

"  The  stones  and  pearl  are  real ;  it  is  worth  three  or  four 
pounds,"  said  Skrebensky  from  the  wharf  above.  Ursula 
could  tell  he  disapproved  of  her. 

"  I  must  give  it  to  your  baby  —  may  I  ?  "  she  said  to  the 
bargee. 

He  flushed,  and  looked  away  into  the  evening. 

"  Nay,"  he  said,  "  it's  not  for  me  to  say." 

"  What  would  your  father  and  mother  say  ? "  cried  the 
woman  curiously,  from  the  door. 

"  It  is  my  own,"  said  Ursula,  and  she  dangled  the  little 
glittering  string  before  the  baby.  The  infant  spread  its 
little  fingers.  But  it  could  not  grasp.  Ursula  closed  the  tiny 
hand  over  the  jewel.  The  baby  waved  the*  bright  ends  of 
the  string.  Ursula  had  given  her  necklace  away.  She  felt 
sad.  But  she  did  not  want  it  back. 

The  jewel  swung  from  the  baby's  hand  and  fell  in  a  little 
heap  on  the  coal-dusty  bottom  of  the  barge.  The  man  groped 
for  it,  with  a  kind  of  careful  reverence.  Ursula  noticed  the 
coarsened,  blunted  fingers  groping  at-the  little  jewelled  heap. 
The  skin  was  red  on  the  back  of  the  hand,  the  fair  hairs  glis- 


FIRST  LOVE  297 

tened  stiffly.  It  was  a  thin,  sinewy,  capable  hand  nevertheless, 
and  Ursula  liked  it.  He  took  up  the  necklace,  carefully,  and 
blew  the  coal-dust  from  it,  as  it  lay  in  the  hollow  of  his  hand. 
He  seemed  still  and  attentive.  He  held  out  his  hand  with  the 
necklace  shining  small  in  its  hard,  black  hollow. 

"  Take  it  back,"  he  said. 

Ursula  hardened  with  a  kind  of  radiance. 

"  No,"  she  said.     "  It  belongs  to  little  Ursula/' 

And  she  went  to  the  infant  and  fastened  the  necklace  round 
its  warm,  soft,  weak  little  neck. 

There  was  a  moment  of  confusion,  then  the  father  bent 
over  his  child: 

"  What  do  you  say  ?  "  he  said.  "  Do  you  say  thank  you  ? 
Do  you  say  thank  you,  Ursula  ?  " 

"  Her  name's  Ursula  now,"  said  the  mother,  smiling  a  little 
bit  ingratiatingly  from  the  door.  And  she  came  out  to  ex- 
amine the  jewel  on  the  child's  neck. 

"  It  is  Ursula,  isn't  it  ?  "  said  Ursula  Brangwen. 

The  father  looked  up  at  her,  with  an  intimate,  half -gallant, 
half-impudent,  but  wistful  look.  His  captive  soul  loved  her : 
but  his  soul  was  captive,  he  knew,  always. 

She  wanted  to  go.  He  set  a  little  ladder  for  her  to  climb 
up  to  the  wharf.  She  kissed  the  child,  which  was  in  its 
mother's  arms,  then  she  turned  away.  The  mother  was  ef- 
fusive. The  man  stood  silent  by  the  ladder. 

Ursula  joined  Skrebensky.  The  two  young  figures  crossed 
the  lock,  above  the  shining  yellow  water.  The  barge-man 
watched  them  go. 

"  I  loved  them,"  she  was  saying.  "  He  was  so  gentle  —  oh, 
so  gentle !  And  the  baby  was  such  a  dear !  " 

"Was  he  gentle?"  said  Skrebensky.  "The  woman  had 
been  a  servant,  I'm  sure  of  that." 

Ursula  winced. 

"  But  I  loved  his  impudence  —  it  was  so  gentle  under- 
neath." 

She  went  hastening  on,  gladdened  by  having  met  the  grimy, 
lean  man  with  the  ragged  moustache.  He  gave  her  a  pleas- 
ant warm  feeling.  He  made  her  feel  the  richness  of  her  own 
life.  Skrebensky,  somehow,  had  created  a  deadness  round 
her,  a  sterility,  as  if  the  world  were  ashes. 

They  said  very  little  as  they  hastened  home  to  the  big 
supper.  He  was  envying  the  lean  father  of  three  children, 
for  his  impudent  directness  and  his  worship  of  the  woman  in 


298  THE  RAINBOW 

Ursula,  a  worship  of  body  and  soul  together,  the  man's  body 
and  soul  wistful  and  worshipping  the  body  and  spirit  of  the 
girl,  with  a  desire  that  knew  the  inaccessibility  of  its  object, 
but  was  only  glad  to  know  that  the  perfect  thing  existed,  glad 
to  have  had  a  moment  of  communion. 

Why  could  not  he  himself  desire  a  woman  so?  Why  did 
fre  never  really  want  a  woman,  not  with  the  whole  of  him: 
never  loved,  never  worshipped,  only  just  physically  wanted 
her. 

But  he  would  want  her  with  his  body,  let  his  soul  do  as  it 
would.  A  kind  of  flame  of  physical  desire  was  gradually 
beating  up  in  the  Marsh,  kindled  by  Tom  Brangwen,  and  by 
the  fact  of  the  wedding  of  Fred,  the  shy,  fair,  stiff-set  farmer 
with  the  handsome,  half -educated  girl.  Tom  Brangwen,  with 
all  his  secret  power,  seemed  to  fan  the  flame  that  was  rising. 
The  bride  was  strongly  attracted  by  him,  and  he  was  exerting 
his  influence  on  another  beautiful,  fair  girl,  chill  and  burning 
as  the  sea,  who  said  witty  things  which  he  appreciated,  mak- 
ing her  glint  with  more,  like  phosphorescence.  And  her 
greenish  eyes  seemed  to  rock  a  secret,  and  her  hands  like 
mother-of-pearl  seemed  luminous,  transparent,  as  if  the  secret 
were  burning  visible  in  them. 

At  the  end  of  supper,  during  dessert,  the  music  began  to 
play,  violins,  and  flutes.  Everybody's  face  was  lit  up.  A 
glow  of  excitement  prevailed.  When  the  little  speeches  were 
over,  and  the  port  remained  unreached  for  any  more,  those 
who  wished  were  invited  out  to  the  open  for  coffee.  The 
night  was  warm. 

Bright  stars  were  shining,  the  moon  was  not  yet  up.  And 
under  the  stars  burned  two  great,  red,  flameless  fires,  and 
round  these  lights  and  lanterns  hung,  the  marquee  stood  open 
before  a  fire,  with  its  lights  inside. 

The  young  people  flocked  out  into  the  mysterious  night. 
There  was  sound  of  laughter  and  voices,  and  a  scent  of  coffee. 
The  farm-buildings  loomed  dark  in  the  background.  Figures, 
pale  and  dark,  flitted  about,  intermingling.  The  red  fire 
glinted  on  a  white  or  a  silken  skirt,  the  lanterns  gleamed  on 
the  transient  heads  of  the  wedding  guests. 

To  Ursula  it  was  wonderful.  She  felt  she  was  a  new  being. 
The  darkness  seemed  to  breathe  like  the  sides  of  some  great 
beast,  the  haystacks  loomed  half-revealed,  a  crowd  of  them, 
a  dark,  fecund  lair  just  behind.  Waves  of  delirious  darkness 
ran  through  her  soul.  She  wanted  to  let  go.  She  wanted 


FIRST  LOVE  299 

to  reach  and  be  amongst  the  flashing  stars,  she  wanted  to 
race  with  her  feet  and  be  beyond  the  confines  of  this  earth. 
She  was  mad  to  be  gone.  It  was  as  if  a  hound  were  straining 
on  the  le^sh,  ready  to  hurl  itself  after  a  nameless  quarry  into 
the  dark.  And  she  was  the  quarry,  and  she  was  also  the 
hound.  The  darkness  was  passionate  and  breathing  with 
immense,  unperceived  heaving.  It  was  waiting  to  receive 
her  in  her  flight.  And  how  could  she  start  —  and  how  could 
she  let  go  ?  She  must  leap  from  the  known  into  the  unknown. 
Her  feet  and  hands  beat  like  a  madness,  her  breast  strained 
as  if  in  bonds. 

The  music  began,  and  the  bonds  began  to  slip.  Tom  Brang- 
wen  was  dancing  with  the  bride,  quick  and  fluid  and  as  if 
in  another  element,  inaccessible  as  the  creatures  that  move  in 
the  water.  Fred  Brangwen  went  in  with  another  partner. 
The  music  came  in  waves.  One  couple  after  another  was 
washed  and  absorbed  into  the  deep  underwater  of  the  dance. 

"  Come,"  said  Ursula  to  Skrebensky,  laying  her  hand  on  his 
arm. 

At  the  touch  of  her  hand  on  his  arm,  his  consciousness 
melted  away  from  him.  He  took  her  into  his  arms,  as  it 
into  the  sure,  subtle  power  of  his  will,  and  they  became  one 
movement,  one  dual  movement,  dancing  on  the  slippery  grass. 
It  would  be  endless,  this  movement,  it  would  continue  for  ever. 
It  was  his  will  and  her  will  locked  in  a  trance  of  motion,  two 
wills  locked  in  one  motion,  yet  never  fusing,  never  yielding 
one  to  the  other.  It  was  a  glaucous,  intertwining,  delicious 
flux  and  contest  in  flux. 

.They  were  both  absorbed  into  a  profound  silence,  into  a 
deep,  fluid  underwater  energy  that  gave  them  unlimited 
strength.  All  the  dancers  were  waving  intertwined  in  the 
flux  of  music.  Shadowy  couples  passed  and  repassed  before 
the  fire,  the  dancing  feet  danced  silently  by  into  the  dark- 
ness. It  was  a  vision  of  the  depths  of  the  underworld,  under 
the  great  flood. 

There  was  a  wonderful  rocking  of  the  darkness,  slowly,  a 
great,  slow  swinging  of  the  whole  night,  with  the  music  play- 
ing lightly  on  the  surface,  making  the  strange,  ecstatic,  rip- 
pling on  the  surface  of  the  dance,  but  underneath  only  one 
great  flood  heaving  slowly  backwards  to  the  verge  of  oblivion, 
slowly  forward  to  the  other  verge,  the  heart  sweeping  along 
each  time,  and  tightening  with  anguish  as  the  limit  was 
reached,  and  the  movement,  at  crises,  turned  and  swept  back. 


SOO  THE  RAINBOW 

As  the  dance  surged  heavily  on,  Ursula  was  aware  of  some 
influence  looking  in  upon  her.  Something  was  looking  at 
her.  Some  powerful,  glowing  sight  was  looking  right  into 
her,  not  upon  her,  but  right  at  her.  Out  of  the  great  dis- 
tance, and  yet  imminent,  the  powerful,  overwhelming  watch 
was  kept  upon  her.  And  she  danced  on  and  on  with  Skre- 
bensky,  while  the  great,  white  watching  continued,  balanc- 
ing all  in  its  revelation. 

"The  moon  has  risen,"  said  Anton,  as  the  music  ceased, 
and  they  found  themselves  suddenly  stranded,  like  bits  of 
jetsam  on  a  shore.  She  turned,  and  saw  a  great  white  moon 
looking  at  her  over  the  hill.  And  her  breast  opened  to  it, 
she  was  cleaved  like  a  transparent  jewel  to  its  light.  She 
stood  filled  with  the  full  moon,  offering  herself.  Her  two 
breasts  opened  to  make  way  for  it,  her  body  opened  wide  like 
a  quivering  anemone,  a  soft,  dilated  invitation  touched  by  the 
moon.  She  wanted  the  moon  to  fill  in  to  her,  she  wanted 
more,  more  communion  with  the  moon,  consummation.  But 
Skrebensky  put  his  arm  round  her  and  led  her  away.  He 
put  a  big,  dark  cloak  round  her,  and  sat  holding  her  hand, 
whilst  the  moonlight  streamed  above  the  glowing  fires. 

She  was  not  there.  Patiently  she  sat,  under  the  cloak, 
with  Skrebensky  holding  her  hand.  But  her  naked  self  was 
away  there  beating  upon  the  moonlight,  dashing  the  moon- 
light with  her  breasts  and  her  knees,  in  meeting,  in  com- 
munion. She  half  started,  to  go  in  actuality,  to  fling  away 
her  clothing  and  flee  away,  away  from  this  dark  confusion 
and  chaos  of  people  to  the  hill  and  the  moon.  But  the 
people  stood  round  her  like  stones,  like  magnetic  stones,  and 
she  could  not  go,  in  actuality.  Skrebensky,  like  a  load-stone 
weighed  on  her,  the  weight  of  his  presence  detained  her.  She 
felt  the  burden  of  him,  the  blind,  persistent,  inert  burden. 
He  was  inert,  and  he  weighed  upon  her.  She  sighed  in  pain. 
Oh,  for  the  coolness  and  entire  liberty  and  brightness  of  the 
moon.  Oh,  for  the  cold  liberty  to  be  herself,  to  do  entirely  as 
she  liked.  She  wanted  to  get  right  away.  She  felt  like 
bright  metal  weighted  down  by  dark,  impure  magnetism.  He 
was  the  dross,  people  were  the  dross.  If  she  could  but  get 
away  to  the  clean  free  moonlight. 

"Don't  you  like  me  to-night?"  said  his  low  voice,  the 
voice  of  the  shadow  over  her  shoulder.  She  clenched  her 
hands  in  the  dewy  brilliance  of  the  moon,  as  if  she  were  mad. 

"  Don't  you  like  me  to-night  ?  "  repeated  the  soft  voice. 


FIRST  LOVE  301 

And  she  knew  that  if  she  turned,  she  would  die.  A  strange 
rage  filled  her,  a  rage  to  tear  things  asunder.  Her  hands  felt 
destructive,  like  metal  blades  of  destruction. 

"  Let  me  alone,"  she  said. 

A  darkness,  an  obstinacy  settled  on  him  too,  in  a  kind  of 
inertia.  He  sat  inert  beside  her.  She  threw  off  her  cloak 
and  walked  towards  the  moon,  silver-white  herself.  He  fol- 
lowed her  closely. 

The  music  began  again  and  the  dance.  He  appropriated 
her.  '  There  was  a  fierce,  white,  cold  passion  in  her  heart. 
But  he  held  her  close,  and  danced  with  her.  Always  present, 
like  a  soft  weight  upon  her,  bearing  her  down,  was  his  body 
against  her  as  they  danced.  He  held  her  very  close,  so  that 
she  could  feel  his  body,  the  weight  of  him  sinking,  settling 
upon  her,  overcoming  her  life  and  energy,  making  her  inert 
along  with  him,  she  felt  his  hands  pressing  behind  her,  upon 
her.  But  still  in  her  body  was  the  subdued,  cold,  indomitable 
passion.  She  liked  the  dance:  it  eased  her,  put  her  into  a 
sort  of  trance.  But  it  was  only  a  kind  of  waiting,  of  using 
up  the  time  that  intervened  between  her  and  her  pure  being. 
She  left  herself  against  him,  she  let  him  exert  all  his  power 
over  her,  as  if  he  would  gain  power  over  her,  to  bear  her 
down.  She  received  all  the  force  of  his  power.  She  even 
wished  he  might  overcome  her.  She  was  cold  and  unmoved  as 
a  pillar  of  salt. 

His  will  was  set  and  straining  with  all  its  tension  to  en- 
compass him  and  compel  her.  If  he  could  only  compel  her. 
He  seemed  to  be  annihilated.  She  was  cold  and  hard  and 
compact  of  brilliance  as  the  moon  itself,  and  beyond  him  as 
the  moonlight  was  beyond  him,  never  to  be  grasped  or  known. 
If  he  could  only  set  a  bond  round  her  and  compel  her! 

So  they  danced  four  or  five  dances,  always  together,  al- 
ways his  will  becoming  more  tense,  his  body  more  subtle, 
playing  upon  her.  And  still  he  had  not  got  her,  she  was 
hard  and  bright  as  ever,  intact.  But  he  must  weave  himself 
round  her,  enclose  her,  enclose  her  in  a  net  of  shadow,  of 
darkness,  so  she  would  be  like  a  bright  creature  gleaming 
in  a  net  of  shadows,  caught.  Then  he  would  have  her,  he 
would  enjoy  her.  How  he  would  enjoy  her,  when  she  was 
caught. 

At  last,  when  the  dance  was  over,  she  would  not  sit  down, 
she  walked  away.  He  came  with  his  arm  round  her,  keep- 
ing her  upon  the  movement  of  his  walking.  And  she  seemed 


302  THE  RAINBOW 

to  agree.  She  was  bright  as  a  piece  of  moonlight,  as  bright 
as  a  steel  blade,  he  seemed  to  be  clasping  a  blade  that  hurt 
him.  Yet  he  would  clasp  her,  if  it  killed  him. 

They  went  towards  the  stackyard.  There  he  saw,  with 
something  like  terror,  the  great  new  stacks  of  corn  glistening 
;a,nd  gleaming  transfigured,  silvery  and  present  under  the 
night-blue  sky,  throwing  dark,  substantial  shadows,  but  them- 
selves majestic  and  dimly  present.  She,  like  glimmering 
gossamer,  seemed  to  burn  among  them,  as  they  rose  like  cold 
fires  to  the  silvery-bluish  air.  All  was  intangible,  a  burning 
of  cold,  glimmering,  whitish-steely  fires.  He  was  afraid  of 
the  great  moon-conflagration  of  the  cornstacks  rising  above 
him.  His  heart  grew  smaller,  it  began  to  fuse  like  a  bead. 
He  knew  he  would  die. 

She  stood  for  some  moments  out  in  the  overwhelming 
luminosity  of  the  moon.  She  seemed  a  beam  of  gleaming 
power.  She  was  afraid  of  what  she  was.  Looking  at  him,  at 
his  shadowy,  unreal,  wavering  presence  a  sudden  lust  seized 
her,  to  lay  hold  of  him  and  tear  him  and  make  him  into  noth- 
ing. Her  hands  and  wrists  felt  immeasurably  hard  anc 
strong,  like  blades.  He  waited  there  beside  her  like  a  shadow 
which  she  wanted  to  dissipate,  destroy  as  the  moonlight  de- 
stroys a  darkness,  annihilate,  have  done  with.  She  looked  a1 
him  and  her  face  gleamed  bright  and  inspired.  She  tempted 
him. 

And  an  obstinacy  in  him  made  him  put  his  arm  round  her 
and  draw  her  to  the  shadow.  She  submitted:  let  him  try 
what  he  could  do.  Let  him  try  what  he  could  do.  He  leaned 
against  the  side  of  the  stack,  holding  her.  The  stack  stung 
him  keenly  with  a  thousand  cold/  sharp  flames.  Still  ob- 
stinately he  held  her. 

And  timorously,  his  hands  went  over  her,  over  the  salt, 
compact  brilliance  of  her  body.  If  he  could  but  have  her, 
how  he  would  enjoy  her !  If  he  could  but  net  her  brilliant, 
cold,  salt-burning  body  in  the  soft  iron  of  his  own  hands,  net 
her,  capture  her,  hold  her  down,  how  madly  he  would  enjoy 
her.  He  strove  subtly,  but  with  all  his  energy,  to  enclose 
her,  to  have  her.  And  always  she  was  burning  and  brilliant 
and  hard  as  salt,  and  deadly.  Yet  obstinately,  all  his  flesh 
burning  and  corroding,  as  if  he  were  invaded  by  some  con- 
suming, scathing  poison,  still  he  persisted,  thinking  at  last 
he  might  overcome  her.  Even,  in  his  frenzy,  he  sought  for 


FIRST  LOVE  303 

her  mouth  with  his  mouth,  though  it  was  like  putting  his 
face  into  some  awful  death.  She  yielded  to  him,  and  he 
pressed  himself  upon  her  in  extremity,  his  soul  groaning  over 
and  over. 

She  took  him  in  the  kiss,  hard  her  kiss  seized  upon  him, 
hard  and  fierce  and  burning  corrosive  as  the  moonlight.  She 
seemed  to  be  destroying  him.  He  was  reeling,  summoning 
all  his  strength  to  keep  his  kiss  upon  her,  to  keep  himself 
in  the  kiss. 

But  hard 'and  fierce  she  had  fastened  upon  him,  cold  as 
the  moon  and  burning  as  a  fierce  salt.  Till  gradually  his 
warm,  soft  iron  yielded,  yielded,  and  she  was  there  fierce, 
corrosive,  seething  with  his  destruction,  seething  like  some 
cruel,  corrosive  salt  around  the  last  substance  of  his  being, 
destroying  him,  destroying  him  in  the  kiss.  And  her  soul 
crystallized  with  triumph,  and  his  soul  was  dissolved  with 
agony  and  annihilation.  So  she  held  him  there,  the  victim, 
consumed,  annihilated.  She  had  triumphed:  he  was  not  any 
more. 

Gradually  she  began  to  come  to  herself.  Gradually  a  sort 
of  daytime  consciousness  came  back  to  her.  Suddenly  the 
night  was  struck  back  into  its  old,  accustomed,  mild  real- 
ity. Gradually  she  realized  that  the  night  was  common 
and  ordinary,  that  the  great,  blistering,  transcendent  night 
did  not  really  exist.  She  was  overcome  with  slow  horror. 
Where  was  she?  What  was  this  nothingness  she  felt?  The 
nothingness  was  Skrebensky.  Was  he  really  there?  —  who 
was  he?  He  was  silent,  he  was  not  there.  What  had  hap- 
pened? Had  she  been  mad:  what  horrible  thing  had  pos- 
sessed her?  She  was  filled  with  overpowering  fear  of  her- 
self, overpowering  desire  that  it  should  not  be,  that  other 
burning,  corrosive  self.  She  was  seized  with  a  frenzied  de- 
sire that  what  had  been  should  never  be  remembered,  never  be 
thought  of,  never  be  for  one  moment  allowed  possible.  She 
denied  it  with  all"  her  might.  With  all  her  might  she  turned 
away  from  it.  She  was  good,  she  was  loving.  Her  heart 
was  warm,  her  blood  was  dark  and  warm  and  soft.  She  laid 
her  hand  caressively  on  Anton's  shoulder. 

"  Isn't  it  lovely  ?  "  she  said,  softly,  coaxingly,  caressingly. 
And  she  began  to  caress  him  to  life  again.  For  he  was  dead. 
And  she  intended  that  he  should  never  know,  never  become 
aware  of  what  had  been.  She  would  bring  him  back  from  the 


304  THE  RAINBOW 

dead  without  leaving  him  one  trace  of  fact  to  remember  his 
annihilation  by. 

She  exerted  all  her  ordinary,  warm  self,  she  touched  him, 
she  did  him  homage  of  loving  awareness.  And  gradually  he 
came  back  to  her,  another  man.  She  was  soft  and  winning 
and  caressing.  She  was  his  servant,  his  adoring  slave.  And 
ehe  restored  the  whole  shell  of  him.  She  restored  the  whole 
form  and  figure  of  him.  But  the  core  was  gone.  His  pride 
was  bolstered  up,  his  blood  ran  once  more  in  pride.  But 
there  was  no  core  to  him :  as  a  distinct  male  he  had  no  core. 
His  triumphant,  flaming,  overweening  heart  of  the  intrinsic 
male  would  never  beat  again.  He  would  be  subject  now, 
reciprocal,  never  the  indomitable  thing  with  a  core  of  over- 
weening, unabateable  fire.  She  had  abated  that  fire,  she 
had  broken  him. 

But  she  caressed  him.  She  would  not  have  him  remember 
what  had  been.  She  would  not  remember  herself. 

"  Kiss  me,  Anton,  kiss  me,"  she  pleaded. 

He  kissed  her,  but  she  knew  he  could  not  touch  her.  His 
arms  were  round  her,  but  they  had  not  got  her.  She  could 
feel  his  mouth  upon  her,  but  she  was  not  at  all  compelled  by 
it. 

"  Kiss  me,"  she  whispered,  in  acute  distress,  "  kiss  me." 

And  he  kissed  her  as  she  bade  him,  but  his  heart  was  hol- 
low. She  took  his  kisses,  outwardly.  But  her  soul  was  empty 
and  finished". 

Looking  away,  she  saw  the  delicate  glint  of  oats  dangling 
from  the  side  of  the  stack,  in  the  moonlight,  something  proud 
and  royal,  and  quite  impersonal.  She  had  been  proud  with 
them,  where  they  were,  she  had  been  also.  But  in  this 
temporary  warm  world  of  the  commonplace,  she  was  a  kind, 
good  girl.  She  reached  out  yearningly  for  goodness  and  af- 
fection. She  wanted  to  be  kind  and  good. 

They  went  home  through  the  night  that  was  all  pale  and 
glowing  around,  with  shadows  and  glimmerings  and  pres- 
ences. Distinctly,  she  saw  the  flowers  in  the  hedge-bottoms, 
she  saw  the  thin,  raked  sheaves  flung  white  upon  the  thorny 
hedge. 

How  beautiful,  how  beautiful  it  was!  She  thought  with 
anguish  how  wildly  happy  she  was  to-night,  since  he  had  kissed 
her.  But  as  he  walked  with  his  arm  round  her  waist,  she 
turned  with  a  great  offering  of  herself  to  the  night  that  glis- 
tened tremendous,  a  magnificent  godly  moon  white  and  can- 


FIRST  LOVE  305 

did  as  a  bridegroom,  flowers  silvery  and  transformed  rilling 
up  the  shadows. 

He  kissed  her  again,  under  the  yew-trees  at  home,  and  she 
left  him.  She  ran  from  the  intrusion  of  her  parents  at 
home,  to  her  bedroom,  where,  looking  out  on  the  moonlit  coun- 
try, she  stretched  up  her  arms,  hard,  hard,  in  bliss,  agony 
offering  herself  to  the  blond,  debonair  presence  of  the 
night. 

But  there  was  a  wound  of  sorrow,  she  had  hurt  herself,  as 
if  she  had  bruised  herself,  in  annihilating  him.  She  covered 
up  her  two  young  breasts  with  her  hands,  covering  them  to 
herself;  and  covering  herself  with  herself,  she  crouched  in 
bed,  to  sleep. 

In  the  morning  the  sun  shone,  she  got  up  strong  and  danc- 
ing. Skrebensky  was  still  at  the  Marsh.  He  was  coming  to 
church.  How  lovely,  how  amazing  life  was !  On  the  fresh 
Sunday  morning  she  went  out  to  the  garden,  among  the  yel- 
lows and  the  deep-vibrating  reds  of  autumn,  she  smelled  the 
earth  and  felt  the  gossamer,  the  cornfields  across  the  country 
were  pale  and  unreal,  everywhere  was  the  intense  silence  of 
the  Sunday  morning,  filled  with  unacquainted  noises.  She 
smelled  the  body  of  the  earth,  it  seemed  to  stir  its  powerful 
flank  beneath  her  as  she  stood.  In  the  bluish  air  came  the 
powerful  exudation,  the  peace  was  the  peace  of  strong,  ex- 
hausted breathing,  the  reds  and  yellows  and  the  white  gleam 
of  stubble  were  the  quivers  and  motion  of  the  last  subsiding 
transports  and  clear  bliss  of  fulfilment. 

The  church-bells  were  ringing  when  he  came.  She  looked 
up  in  keen  anticipation  at  his  entry.  But  he  was  troubled 
and  his  pride  was  hurt.  He  seemed  very  much  clothed,  she 
was  conscious  of  his  tailored  suit. 

"  Wasn't  it  lovely  last  night  ?  "  she  whispered  to  him. 

"Yes,"  he  said.  But  his  face  did  not  open  nor  become 
free. 

The  service  and  the  singing  in  church  that  morning  passed 
unnoticed  by  her.  She  saw  the  coloured  glow  of  the  windows, 
the  forms  of  the  worshippers.  Only  she  glanced  at  the  book 
of  Genesis,  which  was  her  favourite  book  in  the  Bible. 

"  And  God  blessed  Noah  and  his  sons,  and  said  unto  them, 
Be  fruitful  and  multiply  and  replenish  the  earth. 

"And  the  fear  of  you  and  the  dread  of  you  shall  be 
upon  every  beast  of  the  earth,  and  upon  every  fowl  of  the 
air,  upon  all  that  moveth  upon  the  earth,  and  upon  all 


306  THE  RAINBOW 

the  fishes  in  the  sea;  into  your  hand  are  they  delivered. 

"  Every  moving  thing  that  liveth  shall  be  meat  for  you ; 
even  as  the  green  herb  have  I  given  you  all  things." 

But  Ursula  was  not  moved  by  the  history  this  morning. 
Multiplying  and  replenishing  the  earth  bored  her.  Altogether 
it  seemed  merely  a  vulgar  and  stock-raising  sort  of  business. 
She  was  left  quite  cold  by  man's  stock-breeding  lordship  over 
beast  and  fishes. 

"  And  you,  be  ye  fruitful  and  multiply ;  bring  forth 
abundantly  in  the  earth,  and  multiply  therein." 

In  her  soul  she  mocked  at  this  multiplicatior,  every  cow 
becoming  two  cows,  every  turnip  ten  turnips. 

"  And  God  said ;  This  is  the  token  of  the  covenant  which 
T  make  between  me  and  you  and  every  living  creature  that 
is  with  you,  for  perpetual  generations; 

"  I  do  set  my  bow  in  the  cloud,  and  it  shall  be  a  token  of 
a  covenant  between  me  and  the  earth. 

"  And  it  shall  come  to  pass,  wyhen  I  bring  a  cloud  over  the 
earth,  that  a  bow  shall  be  seen  in  the  cloud; 

"  And  I  will  remember  my  covenant,  which  is  between 
me  and  you  and  every  living  creature  of  all  flesh,  and  the 
waters  shall  no  more  become  a  flood  to  destroy  all  flesh." 

"  Destroy  all  flesh,"  why  "  flesh  "  in  particular  ?  Who  was 
this  lord  of  flesh  ?  After  all,  how  big  was  the  Flood  ?  Per- 
haps a  few  dryads  and  fauns  had  just  run  into  the  hills  and 
the  further  valleys  and  woods,  frightened,  but  most  had  gone 
on  blithely  unaware  of  any  flood  at  all,  unless  the  nymphs 
should  tell  them.  It  pleased  Ursula  to  think  of  the  naiads 
in  Asia  Minor  meeting  the  nereids  at  the  mouth  of  the 
streams,  where  the  sea  washed  against  the  fresh,  sweet  tide, 
and  calling  to  their  sisters  the  news  of  Noah's  Flood.  They 
would  tell  amusing  accounts  of  Noah  in  his  ark.  Some 
nymphs  would  relate  how  they  had  hung  on  the  side  of  the 
ark,  peeped  in,  and  heard  Noah  and  Shem  and  Ham  and 
Japeth,  sitting  in  their  place  under  the  rain,  saying,  how  they 
four  were  the  only  men  on  earth  now,  because  the  Lord 
had  drowned  all  the  rest,  so  that  they  four  would  have  every- 
thing to  themselves,  and  be  masters  of  every  thing,  sub-ten- 
ants under  the  great  Proprietor. 

Ursula  wished  she  had  been  a  nymph.  She  would  have 
laughed  through  the  window  of  the  ark,  and  flicked  drops  of 
the  flood  at  Noah,  before  she  drifted  away  to  people  who 
were  less  important  in  their  Proprietor  and  their  Flood. 


FIRST  LOVE  307 

What  was  God,  after  all?  If  maggots  in  a  dead  dog  be 
but  God  kissing  carrion,  what  then  is  not  God?  She  was 
surfeited  of  this  God.  She  was  weary  of  the  Ursula  Brang- 
wen  who  felt  troubled  about  God.  What  ever  God  was,  He 
was,  and  there  was  no  need  for  her  to  trouble  about  Him.  She 
felt  she  had  now  all  licence. 

Skrebensky  sat  beside  her,  listening  to  the  sermon,  to  the 
voice  of  law  and-  order.  "  The  very  hairs  of  your  head  are 
all  numbered."  He  did  not  believe  it.  He  believed  his  own 
things  were  quite  at  his  own  disposal.  You  could  do  as  you 
liked  with  your  own  things,  so  long  as  you  left  other  people's 
alone. 

Ursula  caressed  him  and  made  love  to  him.  Nevertheless 
he  knew  she  wanted  to  react  upon  him  and  to  destroy  his 
being.  She  was  not  with  him,  she  was  against  him.  But 
her  making  love  to  him,  her  complete  admiration  of  him,  in 
open  life,  gratified  him. 

She  caught  him  out  of  himself,  and  they  were  lovers,  in 
a  young,  romantic,  almost  fantastic  way.  He  gave  her  a 
little  ring.  They  put  it.in  Ehine  wine,  in  their  glass,  and  she 
drank,  then  he  drank.  They  drank  till  the  ring  lay  exposed 
at  the  bottom  of  the  glass.  Then  she  took  the  simple  jewel, 
and  tied  it  on  a  thread  round  her  neck,  where  she  wore  it. 

He  asked  her  for  a  photograph  when  he  was  going  away. 
She  went  in  great  excitement  to  the  photographer,  with  five 
shillings.  The  result  was  an  ugly  little  picture  of  herself 
with  her  mouth  on  one  side.  She  wondered  over  it  and  ad- 
mired, it. 

He  saw  only  the  live  face  of  the  girl.  The  picture  hurt 
him.  He  kept  it,  he  always  remembered  it,  but  he  could 
scarcely  bear  to  see  it.  There  was  a  hurt  to  his  soul  in  the 
clear,  fearless  face  that  was  touched  with  abstraction.  Its 
abstraction  was  certainly  away  from  him. 

Then  war  was  declared  with  the  Boers  in  South  Africa,  and 
everywhere  was  a  fizz  of  excitement.  He  wrote  that  he  might 
have  to  go.  And  he  sent  her  a  box  of  sweets. 

She  was  slightly  dazed  at  the  thought  of  his  going  to  the 
war,  not  knowing  how  to  feel.  It  was  a  sort  of  romantic 
situation  that  she  knew  so  well  in  fiction  she  hardly  under- 
stood it  in  fact.  Underneath  a  top  elation  was  a  sort  of 
dreariness,  deep,  ashy  disappointment. 

However,  she  secreted  the  sweets  under  her  bed,  and  ate 
them  all  herself,  when  she  went  to  bed,  and  when  she  woke 


308  THE  RAINBOW 

in  the  morning.  All  the  time  she  felt  very  guilty  and 
ashamed,  but  she  simply  did  not  want  to  share  them. 

That  box  of  sweets  remained  stuck  in  her  mind  afterwards. 
Why  had  she  secreted  them  and  eaten  them  every  one  ?  Why  ? 
She  did  not  feel  guilty  —  she  only  knew  she  ought  to  feel 
guilty.  And  she  could  not  make  up  her  mind.  Curiously 
monumental  that  box  of  sweets  stood  up,  now  it  was  empty. 
It  was  a  crux  for  her.  What  was  she  to  think  of  it  ? 

The  idea  of  war  altogether  made  her  feel  uneasy,  uneasy. 
When  men  began  organized  fighting  with  each  other  it  seemed 
to  her  as  if  the  poles  of  the  universe  were  cracking,  and  the 
whole  might  go  tumbling  into  the  bottomless  pit.  A  hor- 
rible bottomless  feeling  she  had.  Yet  of  course  there  was 
the  minted  superscription  of  romance  and  honour  and  even 
religion  about  war.  She  was  very  confused. 

Skrebensky  was  busy,  he  could  not  come  to  see  her.  She 
asked  for  no  assurance,  no  security.  What  was  between 
them,  was,  and  could  not  be  altered  by  avowals.  She  knew 
that  by  instinct,  she  trusted  to  the  intrinsic  reality. 

But  she  felt  an  agony  of  helplessness.  She  could  do  noth- 
ing. Vaguely  she  knew  the  huge  powers  of  the  world  rolling 
and  crashing  together,  darkly,  clumsily,  stupidly,  yet  colossal, 
so  that  one  was  brushed  along  almost  as  dust.  Helpless, 
helpless,  swirling  like  dust !  Yet  she  wanted  so  hard  to  rebel, 
to  rage,  to  fight.  But  with  what? 

Could  she  with  her  hands  fight  the  face  of  the  earth,  beat 
the  hills  in  their  places?  Yet  her  breast  wanted  to  fight, 
to  fight  the  whole  world.  And  these  two  small  hands  were 
all  she  had  to  do  it  with. 

The  months  went  by,  and  it  was  Christmas  —  the  snowdrops 
came.  There  was  a  little  hollow  in  the  wood  near  Cosse- 
thay,  where  snowdrops  grew  wild.  She  sent  him  some  in  a 
box,  and  he  wrote  her  a  quick  little  note  of  thanks  —  very 
grateful  and  wistful  he  seemed.  Her  eyes  grew  childlike  and 
puzzled.  Puzzled  from  day  to  day  she  went  on,  helpless,  car- 
ried along  by  all  that  must  happen. 

He  went  about  at  his  duties,  giving  himself  up  to  them. 
At  the  bottom  of  his  heart  his  self,  the  soul  that  aspired  and 
had  true  hope  of  self -effectuation  lay  as  dead,  still-born,  a 
dead  weight  in  his  womb.  Who  was  lie,  to  hold  important  his 
personal  connection?  What  did  a  man  matter  personally? 
He  was  just  a  brick  in  the  whole  great  social  fabric,  the  na- 
tion, the  modern  humanity.  His  personal  movements  were 


FIRST  LOVE  309 

small,  and  entirely  subsidiary.  The  whole  form  must  be  en- 
sured, not  ruptured,  for  any  personal  reason  whatsoever,  since 
no  personal  reason  could  justify  such  a  breaking.  What  did 
personal  intimacy  matter?  One  had  to  fill  one's  place  in  the 
whole,  the  great  scheme  of  man's  elaborate  civilization,  that 
was  all.  The  Whole  mattered  —  but  the  unit,  the  person, 
had  no  importance,  except  as  he  represented  the  Whole. 

So  Skrebensky  left  the  girl  out  and  went  his  way,  serving 
what  he  had  to  serve,  and  enduring  what  he  had  to  endure, 
without  remark.  To  his  own  intrinsic  life,  he  was  dead. 
And  he  could  not  rise  again  from  the  dead.  His  soul  lay  in 
the  tomb.  His  life  lay  in  the  established  order  of  things. 
He  had  his  five  senses  too.  They  were  to  be  gratified.  Apart 
from  this,  he  represented  the  great,  established,  extant  Idea 
of  life,  and  as  this  he  was  important  and  beyond  question. 

The  good  of  the  greatest  number  was  all  that  mattered. 
That  which  was  the  greatest  good  for  them  all,  collectively, 
was  the  greatest  good  for  the  individual.  Arid  so,  every 
man  must  give  himself  to  support  the  state,  and  so  labour 
for  the  greatest  good  of  all.  One  might  make  improvements 
in  the  state,  perhaps,  but  always  with  a  view  to  preserving  it 
intact. 

No  highest  good  of  the  community,  however,  would  give 
him  the  vital  fulfilment  of  his  soul.  He  knew  this.  But  he 
did  not  consider  the  soul  of  the  individual  sufficiently  impor- 
tant. He  believed  a  man  was  important  in  so  far  as  he  repre- 
sented all  humanity. 

He  could  not  see,  it  was  not  born  in  him  to  see,  that  the 
highest  good  of  the  community  as  it  stands  is  no  longer  the 
highest  good  of  even  the  average  individual.  He  thought 
that,  because  the  community  represents  millions  of  people, 
therefore  it  must  be  millions  of  times  more  important  than 
any  individual,  forgetting  that  the  community  is  an  abstrac- 
tion from  the  many,  and  is  not  the  many  themselves.  Now 
when  the  statement  of  the  abstract  good  for  the  community 
has  become  a  formula  lacking  in  all  inspiration  or  value 
to  the  average  intelligence,  then  the  "  common  good "  be- 
comes a  general  nuisance,  representing  the  vulgar,  conserva- 
tive materialism  at  a  low  level. 

And  by  the  highest  good  of  the  greatest  number  is  chiefly 
meant  the  material  prosperity  of  all  classes.  Skrebensky 
did  not  really  care  about  his  own  material  prosperity.  If 
he  had  been  penniless  —  well,  he  would  have  taken  his  chances. 


310  THE  RAINBOW 

Therefore  how  could  he  find  his  highest  good  in  giving  up 
his  life  for  the  material  prosperity  of  everybody  else !  What 
he  considered  an  unimportant  thing  for  himself  he  could  not 
think  worthy  of  every  sacrifice  on  behalf  of  other  people. 
And  that  which  he  would  consider  of  the  deepest  importance 
to  himself  as  an  individual  —  oh,  he  said,  you  mustn't  con- 
sider the  community  from  that  standpoint.  No  —  no  —  we 
know  what  the  community  wants;  it  wants  something  solid, 
it  wants  good  wages,  equal  opportunities,  good  conditions  of 
living,  that's  what  the  community  wants.  It  doesn't  want 
anything  subtle  or  difficult.  Duty  is  very  plain  —  keep  in 
mind  the  material,  the  immediate  welfare  of  every  man,  that's 
all. 

So  there  came  over  Skrebensky  a  sort  of  nullity,  which 
more  and  more  terrified  Ursula.  She  felt  there  was  something 
hopeless  which  she  had  to  submit  to.  She  felt  a  great  sense 
of  disaster  impending.  Day  after  day  was  made  inert  with 
a  sense  of  disaster.  She  became  morbidly  sensitive,  depressed, 
apprehensive.  It  was  anguish  to  her  when  she  saw  one  rook 
slowly  flapping  in  the  sky.  That  was  a  sign  of  ill-omen. 
And  the  foreboding  became  so  black  and  so  powerful  in  her, 
that  she  was  almost  extinguished. 

Yet  what  was  the  matter?  At  the  worst  he  was  only 
going  away.  Why  did  she  mind,  what  was  it  she  feared? 
She  did  not  know.  Only  she  had  a  black  dread  possessing 
her.  When  she  went  at  night  and  saw  the  big,  flashing  stars 
they  seemed  terrible,  by  day  she  was  always  expecting  some 
charge  to  be  made  against  her. 

He  wrote  in  March  to  say  that  he  was  going  to  South 
Africa  in  a  short  time,  hut  before  he  went,  he  would  snatch 
a  day  at  the  Marsh. 

As  if  in  a  painful  dream,  she  waited  suspended,  unresolved. 
She  did  not  know,  she  could  not  understand.  Only  she  felt 
that  all  the  threads  of  her  fate  were  being  held  taut,  in  sus- 
pense. She  only  wept  sometimes  as  she  went  about,  saying 
blindly : 

"  I  am  so  fond  of  him,  I  am  so  fond  of  him." 

He  came.  But  why  did -he  come?  She  looked  at  him 
for  a  sign.  He  gave  no  sign.  He  did  not  even  kiss  her.  He 
behaved  as  if  he  were  an  affable,  usual  acquaintance.  This 
was  superficial,  but  what  did  it  hide?  She  waited  for  him, 
she  wanted  him  to  make  some  sign. 

So  the  whole  of  the  day  they  wavered  and  avoided  con- 


FIRST  LOVE  311 

tact,  until  evening.  Then,  laughing,  saying  he  would  be  back 
in  six  months'  time  and  would  tell  them  all  about  it,  he  shook 
hands  with  her  mother  and  took  his  leave. 

Ursula  accompanied  him  into  the  lane.  The  night  was 
windy,  the  yew-trees  seethed  and  hissed  and  vibrated.  The 
wind  seemed  to  rush  about  among  the  chimneys  and  the 
church-tower.  It  was  dark. 

The  wind  blew  Ursula's  face,  and  her  clothes  cleaved  to 
her  limbs.  But  it  was  a  surging,  turgid  wind,  instinct  with 
compressed  vigour  of  life.  And  she  seemed  to  have  lost 
Skrebensky.  Out  there  in  the  strong,  urgent  night  she  could 
not  find  him. 

"  Where  are  you  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  Here,"  came  his  bodiless  voice. 

And  groping,  she  touched  him.  A  fire  like  lightning 
drenched  them. 

"Anton?"  she  said. 

"What?"  he  answered. 

She  held  him  with  her  hands  in  the  darkness,  she  felt  his 
body  again  with  hers. 

"  Don't  leave  me  —  come  back  to  me,"  she  said. 

"  Yes,"  he  said,  holding  her  in  his  arms. 

But  the  male  in  him  was  scotched  by  the  knowledge  that 
she  was  not  under  his  spell  nor  his  influence.  He  wanted  to 
go  away  from  her.  He  rested  in  the  knowledge  that  to- 
morrow he  was  going  away,  his  life  was  realty  elsewhere. 
His  life  was  elsewhere  —  his  life  was  elsewhere  —  the  centre  of 
his  life  was  not  what  she  would  have.  She  was  different  — 
there  was  a  breach  between  them.  They  were  hostile  worlds. 

"  You  will  come  back  to  me  ?  "  she  reiterated. 

"Yes,"  he  said.  And  he  meant  it.  But  as  one  keeps  an 
appointment,  not  as  a  man  returning  to  his  fulfilment. 

So  she  kissed  him,  and  went  indoors,  lost.  He  walked 
down  to  the  Marsh  abstracted.  The  contact  with  her  hurt 
him,  and  threatened  him.  He  shrank,  he  had  to  be  free  of 
her  spirit.  For  she  would  stand  before  him,  like  the  angel 
before  Balaam,  and  drive  him  back  with  a  sword  from  the 
way  he  was  going,  into  a  wilderness. 

The  next  day  she  went  to  the  station  to  see  him  go.  She- 
looked  at  him,  she  turned  to  him,  but  he  was  always  so 
strange  and  null  —  so  null.  He  was  so  collected.  She 
thought  it  was  that  which  made  him  null.  Strangely  nothing 
he  was. 


312  THE  RAINBOW 

Ursula  stood  near  to  him  with  a  mute,  pale  face  which  he 
would  rather  not  see.  There  seemed  some  shame  at  the 
very  root  of  life,  cold,  dead  shame  for  her. 

The  three  made  a  noticeable  group  on  the  station;  the 
girl  in  her  fur  cap  and  tippet  and  her  olive  green  costume, 
pale,  tense  with  youth,  isolated,  unyielding;  the  soldierly 
young  man  in  a  crush  hat  and  a  heavy  overcoat,  his  face 
rather  pale  and  reserved  above  his  purple  scarf,  his  whole 
figure  neutral;  then  the  elder  man,  a  fashionable  bowler  hat 
pressed  low  over  his  dark  brows,  his  face  warm-coloured  and 
calm,  his  whole  figure  curiously  suggestive  of  full-blooded 
indifference ;  he  was  the  eternal  audience,  the  chorus,  the  spec- 
tator at  the  drama ;  in  his  own  life  he  would  have  no  drama. 

The  train  was  rushing  up.  Ursula's  heart  heaved,  but  the 
ice  was  frozen  too  strong  upon  it. 

"  Good-bye,"  she  said,  lifting  her  hand,  her  face  laughing 
with  her  peculiar,  blind,  almost  dazzling  laugh.  She  won- 
dered what  he  was  doing,  when  he  stooped  and  kissed  her. 
He  should  be  shaking  hands  and  going. 

"  Good-bye,"  she  said  again. 

He  picked  up  his  little  bag  and  turned  his  back  on  her. 
There  was  a  hurry  along  the  train.  Ah,  here  was  his  carriage. 
He  took  his  seat.  Tom  Brangwen  shut  the  door,  and  the 
two  men  shook  hands  as  the  whistle  went. 

"  Good-bye  —  and  good  luck,"  said  Brangwen. 

"  Thank  you  — •  good-bye." 

The  train  moved  off.  Skrebensky  stood  at  the  carriage, 
window,  waving,  but  not  really  looking  to  the  two  figures, 
the  girl  and  the  warm-coloured,  almost  effeminately-dressed 
man.  Ursula  waved  her  handkerchief.  The  train  gathered 
speed,  it  grew  smaller  and  smaller.  Still  it  ran  in  a  straight 
line.  The  speck  of  white  vanished.  The  rear  of  the  train 
was  small  in  the  distance.  Still  she  stood  on  the  platform, 
feeling  a  great  emptiness  about  her.  In  spite  of  herself  her 
mouth  was  quivering :  she  did  not  want  to  cry :  her  heart  was 
dead  cold. 

Her  uncle  Tom  had  gone  to  an  automatic  machine,  and  was 
getting  matches. 

"  Would  you  like  some  sweets,"  he  said,  turning  round. 

Her  face  was  covered  with  tears,  she  made  curious,  down- 
ward grimaces  with  her  mouth,  to  get  control.  Yet  her  heart 
was  not  crying  —  it  was  cold  and  earthy. 

"  What  {and  would  you  like  —  any  9  "  Dersisted  her  uncle. 


FIRST  LOVE  313 

ee  I  should  love  some  peppermint  drops/'  she  said,  in  a 
strange,  normal  voice,  from  her  distorted  face.  But  in  a 
few  moments  she  had  gained  control  of  herself,  and  was 
still,  detached. 

"  Let  us  go  into  the  town/'  he  said,  and  he  rushed  her  into 
a  train,  moving  to  the  town  station.  They  went  to  a  caf£ 
to  drink  coffee,  she  sat  looking  at  people  in  the  street,  and 
a  great  wound  was  in  her  breast,  a  cold  imperturbability  in 
her  soul. 

This  cold  imperturbability  of  spirit  continued  in  her  now. 
It  was  as  if  some  disillusion  had  frozen  upon  her,  a  hard  dis- 
belief. Part  of  her  had  gone  cold,  apathetic.  She  was  too 
'young,  too  baffled  to  understand,  or  even  to  know  that  she 
suffered  much.  And  she  was  too  deeply  hurt  to  submit. 

She  had  her  blind  agonies,  when  she  wanted  him,  she 
wanted  him.  But  from  the  moment  of  his  departure,  he 
had  become  a  visionary  thing  of  her  own.  All  her  roused 
torment  and  passion  and  yearning  she  turned  to  him. 

She  kept  a  diary,  in  which  she  wrote  impulsive  thoughts. 
Seeing  the  moon  in  the  sky,  her  own  heart  surcharged,  she 
went  and  wrote : 

"  If  I  were  the  moon,  I  know  where  I  would  fall  down." 

It  meant  so  much  to  her,  that  sentence  —  she  put  into  it 
all  the  anguish  of'  her  youth  and  her  young  passion  and  yearn- 
ing. She  called  to  him  from  her  heart  wherever  she  went, 
her  limbs  vibrated  with  anguish  towards  him  wherever  she 
was,  the  radiating  force  of  her  soul  seemed  to  travel  to  him. 
endlessly,  endlessly,  and  in  her  soul's  own  creation,  find 
him. 

But  who  was  he,  and  where  did  he. exist?  In  her  own  de- 
sire only. 

She  received  a  post-card  from  him,  and  she  put  it  in  her 
bosom.  It  did  not  mean  much  to  her,  really.  The  second 
day,  she  lost  it,  and  never  even  remembered  she  had  had  it, 
till  some  days  afterwards. 

The  long  weeks  went  by.  There  came  the  constant  bad 
news  of  the  war.  And  she  felt  as  if  all,  outside  there  in  the 
world,  were  a  hurt,  a  hurt  against  her.  And  something  in 
her  soul  remained  cold,  apathetic,  unchanging. 

Her  life  was  always  only  partial  at  this  time,  never  did  she 
live  completely.  There  was  the  cold,  unliving  part  of  her. 
Yet  she  was  madly  sensitive.  She  could  not  bear  herself. 
When  a  dirty,  red-eyed  old  woman  came  begging  of  her  IB- 


314  THE  RAINBOW 

the  street,  she  started  away  as  from  an  unclean  thing.  And 
then,  when  the  old  woman  shouted  acrid  insults  after  her, 
she  winced,  her  limbs  palpitated  with  insane  torment,  she 
could  not  bear  herself.  Whenever  she  thought  of  the  red- 
eyed  old  women,  a  sort  of  madness  ran  in  inflammation  over 
her  flesh  and  her  brain,  she  almost  wanted  to  kill  herself. 

And  in  this  state,  her  sexual  life  flamed  into  a  kind  of 
disease  within  her.  She  was  so  overwrought  and  sensitive, 
that  the  mere  touch  of  coarse  wool  seemed  to  tear  her  nerves. 


, 


CHAPTER  XII 

SHAME 

UESULA  had  only  two  more  terms  at  school.  She 
was  studying  for  her  matriculation  examination.  It 
was  dreary  work,  for  she  had  very  little  intelligence 
when  she  was  disjointed  from  happiness.  Stub- 
bornness and  a  consciousness  of  impending  fate  kept  her  half- 
heartedly pinned  to  it.  She  knew  that  soon  she  would  want  to 
become  a  self-responsible  person,  and  her  dread  was  that  she 
would  be  prevented.  An  all-containing  will  in  her  for  com- 
plete independence,  complete  social  independence,  complete 
independence  from  any  personal  authority,  kept  her  dullishly 
at  her  studies.  For  she  knew  that  she  had  always  her  price 
of  ransom  —  her  f emaleness.  She  was  always  a  woman,  and 
what  she  could  not  get  because  she  wTas  a  human  being,  fellow 
to  the  rest  of  mankind,  she  would  get  because  she  was  a  female, 
other  than  the  man.  In  her  f  emaleness  she  felt  a  secret  riches, 
a  reserve,  she  had  always  the  price  of  freedom. 

However,  she  was  sufficiently  reserved  about  this  last  re- 
source. The  other  things  should  be  tried  first.  There  was 
the  mysterious  man's  world  to  be  adventured  upon,  the  world 
of  daily  work  and  duty,  and  existence  as  a  working  member 
of  the  community.  Against  this  she  had  a  subtle  grudge. 
She  wanted  to  make  her  conquest  also  of  this  man's  world. 

So  she  ground  away  at  her  work,  never  giving  it  up.  Some 
things  she  liked.  Her  subjects  were  English,  Latin,  French, 
mathematics  and  history.  *  Once  she  knew  how  to  read  French 
and  Latin,  the  syntax  bored  her.  Most  tedious  was  the  close 
study  of  English  literature.  Why  should  one  remember  the 
things  one  read?  Something  in  mathematics,  their  cold 
absoluteness,  fascinated  her,  but  the  actual  practice  was 
tedious.  Some  people  in  history  puzzled  her  and  made  her 
ponder,  but  the  political  parts  angered  her,  and  she  hated 
ministers.  Only  in  odd  streaks  did  she  get  a  poignant  sense 
of  acquisition  and  enrichment  and  enlarging  from  her  studies ; 
one  afternoon,  reading  "  As  You  Like  It " ;  once  when,  with 
her  blood,  she  heard  a  passage  of  Latin,  and^she  knew  how  the 

315 


316  THE  RAINBOW 

blood  beat  in  a  Roman's  body;  so  that  ever  after  she  felt  she 
knew  the  Romans  by  contact.  She  enjoyed  the  vagaries  of 
English  Grammar,  because  it  gave  her  pleasure  to  detect  the 
live  movements  of  words  and  sentences ;  and  mathematics,  the 
very  sight  of  the  letters  in  Algebra,  had  a  real  lure  for  her. 

She  felt  so  much  and  so  confusedly  at  this  time,  that  her 
face  got  a  queer,  wondering,  half-scared  look,  as  if  she  were 
not  sure  what  might  seize  upon  her  at  any  moment  out  of  the 
unknown. 

Odd  little  bits  of  information  stirred  unfathomable  passion 
in  her.  When  she  knew  that  in  the  tiny  brown  buds  of 
autumn  were  folded,  minute  and  complete,  the  finished  flowers 
of  the  summer  nine  months  hence,  tiny,  folded  up,  and  left 
there  waiting,  a  flash  of  triumph  and  love  went  over  her. 

"  I  could  never  die  while  there  was  a  tree,"  she  said  pas- 
sionately, sententiously,  standing  before  a  great  ash  in  wor- 
ship. 

It  was  the  people  who,  somehow,  walked  as  an  upright 
menace  to  her.  Her  life  at  this  time  was  unformed,  palpitat- 
ing, essentially  shrinking  from  all  touch.  She  gave  some- 
thing to  other  people,  but  she  was  never  herself,  since  she  had 
no  self.  She  was  not  afraid  nor  ashamed  before  trees,  and 
birds,  and  the  sky.  But  she  shrank  violently  from  people, 
ashamed  she  was  not  as  they  were,  fixed,  emphatic,  but  a 
wavering,  undefined  sensibility  only,  without  form  or  being. 

Gudrun  was  at  this  time  a  great  comfort  and  shield  to  her. 
The  younger  girl  was  a  lithe,  farouche  animal,  who  mis- 
trusted all  approach,  and  would  have  none  of  the  petty  se- 
crecies and  jealousies  of  schoolgirl  intimacy.  She  would  have 
no  truck  with  the  tame  cats,  nice  or  not,  because  she  believed 
that  they  were  all  only  untamed  cats  with  a  nasty,  untrust- 
worthy habit  of  tameness. 

This  was  a  great  stand-back  to  Ursula,  who  suffered  agonies 
when  she  thought  a  person  disliked  her,  no  matter  how  much 
she  despised  that  other  person.  How  could  any  one  dislike 
her,  Ursula  Brangwen?  The  question  terrified  her  and  was 
unanswerable.  She  sought  refuge  in  Gudrun's  natural,  proud 
indifference. 

It  had  been  discovered  that  Gudrun  had  a  talent  for  draw- 
ing. This  solved  the  problem  of  the  girl's  indifference  to  all 
study.  It  was  said  of  her,  "  She  can  draw  marvellously/5 

Suddenly  Ursula  found  a  queer  awareness  existed  between 
herself  and  her  class-mistress,  Miss  Inger.  The  latter  was  a 


SHAME 

rather  beautiful  woman  of  twenty-eight,  a  fearless-seeming, 
clean  type  of  modern  girl  whose  very  independence  betrays 
her  sorrow.  She  was  clever,  and  expert  in  what  she  did,  ac- 
curate, quick,  commanding. 

To  Ursula  she  had  always  given  pleasure,  because  of  her 
clear,  decided,  yet  graceful  appearance.  She  carried  her 
head  high,  a  little  thrown  back,  and  Ursula  thought  there 
was  a  look  of  nobility  in  the  way  she  twisted  her  smooth 
brown  hair  upon  her  head.  She  always  wore  clean,  attrac- 
tive, well-fitting  blouses,  and  a  well-made  skirt.  Everything 
about  her  was  so  well-ordered,  betraying  a  fine,  clear  spirit, 
that  it  was  a  pleasure  to  sit  in  her  class. 

Her  voice  was  just  as  ringing  and  clear,  and  with  unwaver- 
ing, finely-touched  modulation.  Her  eyes  were  blue,  clear, 
proud,  she  gave  one  altogether  the  sense  of  a  fine-mettled, 
scrupulously  groomed  person,  and  of  an  unyielding  mind- 
Yet  there  was  an  infinite  poignancy  about  her,  a  great  pathos 
in  her  lonely,  proudly  closed  mouth. 

It  was  after  Skrebensky  had  gone  that  there  sprang  up  be  • 
tween  the  mistress  and  the  girl  that  strange  awareness,  then 
th'e  unspoken  intimacy  that  sometimes  connects  two  people 
who  may  never  even  make  each  other's  acquaintance.  Be- 
fore, they  had  always  been  good  friends,  in  the  undistin- 
guished way  of  the  class-room,  with  the  professional  relation- 
ship of  mistress  and  scholar  always  present.  Now,  however, 
another  thing  came  to  pass.  When  they  were  in  the  room  to- 
gether, they  were  aware  of  each  other,  almost  to  the  exclusion 
of  everything  else.  Winifred  Inger  felt  a  hot  delight  in  the 
lessons  when  Ursula  was  present,  Ursula  felt  her  whole  life 
begin  when  Miss  Inger  came  into  the  room.  Then,  with  the 
beloved,  subtly-intimate  teacher  present,  the  girl  sat  as  within 
the  rays  of  some  enrichening  sun,  whose  intoxicating  heat 
poured  straight  into  her  veins. 

The  state  of  bliss,  when  Miss  Inger  was  present,  was 
supreme  in  the  girl,  but  always  eager,  eager.  As  she  went 
home,  Ursula  dreamed  of  the  school-mistress,  made  infinite 
dreams  of  things  she  could  give  her,  of  how  she  might  make 
the  elder  woman  adore  her. 

Miss  Inger  was  a  Bachelor  of  Arts,  who  had  studied  at 
Newnham.  She  was  a  clergyman's  daughter,  of  good  family. 
But  what  Ursula  adored  so  much  was  her  fine,  upright,  athletic 
bearing,  and  her  indomitably  proud  nature.  She  was  proud 
and  free  as  a  man,  yet  exquisite  as  a  woman. 


'318  THE  RAINBOW 

The  girl's  heart  burned  in  her  breast  as  she  set  off  for 
school  in  the  morning.  So  eager  was  her  breast,  so  glad  her 
feet,  to  travel  towards  the  beloved.  Ah,  Miss  Inger,  how 
straight  and  fine  was  her  back,  how  strong  her  loins,  how 
calm  and  free  her  limbs ! 

Ursula  craved  ceaselessly  to  know  if  Miss  Inger  cared  for 
her.  As  yet  no  definite  sign  had  been  passed  between  the 
two.  Yet  surely,  surely  Miss  Inger  loved  her  too,  was  fond 
of  her,  liked  her  at  least  more  than  the  rest  of  the  scholars 
in  the  class.  Yet  she  was  never  certain.  It  might  be  that 
Miss  Inger  cared  nothing  for  her.  And  yet,  and  yet,  with 
blazing  heart,  Ursula  felt  that  if  only  she  could  speak  to  her, 
touch  her,  she  would  know. 

The  summer  term  came,  and  with  it  the  swimming  class. 
Miss  Inger  was  to  take  the  swimming  class.  Then  Ursula 
trembled  and  was  dazed  with  passion.  Her  hopes  were  soon 
to  be  realized.  She  would  see  Miss  Inger  in  her  bathing  dress. 

The  day  came.  In  the  great  bath  the  water  was  glimmer- 
ing pale  emerald  green,  a  lovely,  glimmering  mass  of  colour 
within  the  whitish  marble-like  confines.  Overhead  the  light 
fell  softly  and  the  great  green  body  of  pure  water  moved  under 
it  as  some  one  dived  from  the  side. 

Ursula,  trembling,  hardly  able  to  contain  herself,  pulled 
off  her  clothes,  put  on  her  tight  bathing  suit,  and  opened  the 
door  of  her  cabin.  Two  girls  were  in  the  water.  The  mis- 
tress had  not  appeared.  She  waited.  A  door  opened.  Miss 
Inger  came  out,  dressed  in  a  rust-red  tunic  like  a  Greek 
girl's,  tied  round  the  waist,  and  a  red  silk  handkerchief  round 
her  head.  How  lovely  she  looked !  Her  knees  were  so  white 
and  strong  and  proud,  and  she  was  firm-bodied  as  Diana.  She 
walked  simply  to  the  side  of  the  bath,  and  with  a  negligent 
movement,  flung  herself  in.  For  a  moment  Ursula  watched 
the  white,  smooth,  strong  shoulders,  and  the  easy  arms  swim- 
ming. Then  she  too  dived  into  the  water. 

Now,  ah  now,  she  was  swimming  in  the  same  water  with 
her  dear  mistress.  The  girl  moved  her  limbs  voluptuously, 
and  swam  by  herself,  deliciously,  yet  with  a  craving  of  un- 
satisfaction.  She  wanted  to  touch  the  other,  to  touch  her,  to 
feel  her. 

66 1  will  race  you,  Ursula,"  came  the  well-modulated  voice. 

Ursula  started  violently.  She  turned  to  see  the  warm,  un- 
folded face  of  her  mistress  looking  at  her,  to  her.  She  was 
acknowledged.  Laughing  her  own  beautiful,  startled  laugh, 


SHAME  319 

she  began  to  swim.  The  mistress  was  just  ahead,  swimming 
with  easy  strokes.  Ursula  could  see  the  head  put  back,  the 
water  flickering  upon  the  white  shoulders,  the  strong  legs 
kicking  shadowily.  And  she  swam  blinded  with  passion.  Ah, 
the  beauty  of  the  firm,  white,  cool  flesh !  Ah,  the  wonderful 
firm  limbs.  Ah,  if  she  did  not  so  despise  her  own  thin,  dusky 
fragment  of  a  body,  if  only  she  too  were  fearless  and  capable. 

She  swam  on  eagerly,  not  wanting  to  win,  only  wanting 
to  be  near  her  mistress,  to  swim  in  a  race  with  her.  They 
neared  the  end  of  the  bath,  the  deep  end.  Miss  Inger  touched 
the  pipe,  swung  herself  round,  and  caught  Ursula  round  the 
waist  in  the  water,  and  held  her  for  a  moment. 

"  I  won/'  said  Miss  Inger,  laughing. 

There  was  a  moment  of  suspense.  Ursula's  heart  was  beat- 
ing so  fast,  she  clung  to  the  rail,  and  could  not  move.  Her 
dilated,  warm,  unfolded,  glowing  face  turned  to  the  mistress, 
as  if  to  her  very  sun. 

"  Good-bye,"  said  Miss  Inger,  and  she  swam  away  to  the 
other  pupils,  taking  professional  interest  in  them. 

Ursula  was  dazed.  She  could  still  feel  the  touch  of  the 
mistress's  body  against  her  own  —  only  this,  only  this.  The 
rest  of  the  swimming  time  passed  like  a  trance.  When  the 
call  was  given  to  leave  the  water,  Miss  Inger  walked  down 
the  bath  towards  Ursula.  Her  rust-red,  thin  tunic  was  cling- 
ing to  her,  the  whole  body  was  defined,  firm  and  magnificent, 
as  it  seemed  to  the  girl. 

"  I  enjoyed  our  race,  Ursula,  did  you  ?  "  said  Miss  Inger. 

The  girl  could  only  laugh  with  revealed,  open,  glowing 
face. 

The  love  was  now  tacitly  confessed.  But  it  was  some 
time  before  any  further  progress  was  made.  Ursula  continued 
in  suspense,  in  inflamed  bliss. 

Then  one  day,  when  she  was  alone,  the  mistress  came  near 
to  her,  and  touching  her  cheek  with  her  fingers,  said  with 
some  difficulty. 

"Would  you  like  to  come  to  tea  with  me  on  Saturday, 
Ursula?" 

The  girl  flushed  all  gratitude. 

"We'll  go  to  a  lovely  little  bungalow  on  the  Soar,  shall  we? 
I  stay  the  week-ends  there  sometimes." 

Ursula  was  beside  herself..  She  could  not  endure  till  the 
Saturday  came,  her  thoughts  burned  up  like  a  fire.  If  only 
it  were  Saturday,  if  only  it  were  Saturday. 


320  THE  RAINBOW 

Then  Saturday  came,  and  she  set  out.  Miss  Inger  met  her 
in  Sawley,  and  they  walked  about  three  miles  to  the  bunga- 
low. It  was  a  moist,  warm  cloudy  day. 

The  bungalow  was  a  tiny,  two-roomed  shanty  set  on  a  steep 
bank.  Everything  in  it  was  exquisite.  In  delicious  privacy, 
the  two  girls  made  tea,  and  then  they  talked.  Ursula  need 
not  be  home  till  about  ten  o'clock. 

The  talk  was  led,  by  a  kind  of  spell,  to  love.  Miss  Inger 
was  telling  Ursula  of  a  friend,  how  she  had  died  in  child- 
birth, and  what  she  had  suffered;  then  she  told  of  a  prosti- 
tute, and  of  some  of  her  experiences  with  men. 

As  they  talked  thus,  on  the  little  verandah  of  the  bunga- 
low, the  night  fell,-  there  was  a  little  warm  rain. 

"  It  is  really  stifling,"  said  Miss  Inger. 

They  watched  a  train,  whose  lights  were  pale  in  the  linger- 
ing twilight,  rushing  across  the  distance. 

"  It  will  thunder,"  said  Ursula. 

The  electric  suspense  continued,  the  darkness  sank,  they 
were  eclipsed. 

"  I  think  I  shall  go  and  bathe/'  said  Miss  Inger,  out  of  the 
cloud-black  darkness. 

"At  night?"  said  Ursula. 

"  It  is  best  at  night.     Will  you  come  ?  " 

"I  should  .like  to." 

ee  It  is  quite  safe  —  the  grounds  are  private.  We  had  better 
undress  in  the  bungalow,  for  fear  of  the  rain,  then  run  down." 

Shyly,  stiffly,  Ursula  went  into  the  bungalow,  and  began  to 
remove  her  clothes.  The  lamp  was  turned  low,  she  stood 
in  the  shadow.  By  another  chair  Winifred  Inger  was  undress- 
ing. 

Soon  the  naked,  shadowy  figure  of  the  elder  girl  came  to 
the  younger. 

"  Are  you  ready  ?  "  she  said. 

"  One  moment" 

Ursula  could  hardly  speak.  The  other  naked  woman  stood 
by,  stood  near,  silent.  Ursula  was  ready. 

They  ventured  out  into  the  darkness,  feeling  the  soft  air 
of  night  upon  their  skins. 

"  I  can't  see  the  path,"  said  Ursula. 

"  It  is  here,"  said  the  voice,  and  the  wavering,  pallid  figure 
was  beside  her,  a  hand  grasping  her  arm.  And  the  elder  held 
the  younger  close  against  her,  close,  as  they  went  down,  and 
by  the  side  of  the  water,  she  put  her  arms  round  her,  and 


SHAME  321 

kissed  her.  And  she  lifted  her  in  her  arms,  close,  saying, 
softly, 

"  I  shall  carry  you  into  the  water." 

After  awhile  the  rain  came  down  on  their  flushed,  hot  limbs, 
startling,  delicious.  A  sudden,  ice-cold  shower  burst  in  a 
great  weight  upon  them.  They  stood  up  to  it  with  pleasure. 
Ursula  received  the  stream  of  it  upon  her  breasts  and  her 
limbs.  It  made  her  cold,  and  a  deep,  bottomless  silence  welled 
up  in  her,  as  if  bottomless  darkness  were  returning  upon  her. 

So  the  heat  vanished  away,  she  was  chilled,  as  if  from  a 
waking  up.  She  ran  indoors,  a  chill,  non-existent  thing,  want- 
ing to  get  away.  She  wanted  the  light,  the  presence  of  other 
people,  the  external  connection  with  the  many.  Above  all  she 
wanted  to  lose  herself  among  natural  surroundings. 

She  took  her  leave  of  her  mistress  and  returned  home. 
She  was  glad  to  be  on  the  station  with  a  crowd  of  Saturday- 
night  people,  glad  to  sit  in  the  lighted,  crowded  railway  car- 
riage. Only  she  did  not  want  to  meet  anybody  she  knew. 
She  did  not  want  to  talk.  She  was  alone,  immune. 

All  this  stir  and  seethe  of  lights  and  people  was  but  the 
rim,  the  shores  of  a  great  inner  darkness  and  void.  She 
wanted  very  much  to  be  on  the  seething,  partially  illuminated 
shore,  for  within  her  was  the  void  reality  of  dark  space. 

For  a  time  Miss  Inger,  her  mistress,  was  gone;  she  was 
only  a  dark  void,  and  Ursula  was  free  as  a  shade  walking  in 
an  underworld  of  extinction,  of  oblivion.  Ursula  was  glad, 
with  a  kind  of  motionless,  lifeless  gladness,  that  her  mistress 
was  extinct,  gone  out  of  her. 

In  the  morning,  however,  the  love  was  there  again,  burning, 
burning.  She  remembered  yesterday,  and  she  wanted  more, 
always  more.  She  wanted  to  be  with  her  mistress.  All  sepa- 
ration from  her  mistress  was  a  restriction  from  living.  Why 
could  she  not  go  to  her  to-day,  to-day?  Why  must  she  pace 
about  revoked  at  Cossethay  whilst  her  mistress  was  elsewhere  ? 
She  sat  down  and  wrote  a  burning,  passionate  love-letter :  she 
could  not  help  it. 

The  two  women  became  intimate.  Their  lives  seemed  sud- 
denly to  fuse  into  one,  inseparable.  Ursula  went  to  Wini- 
fred's lodging,  she  spent  there  her  only  living  hours.  Wini- 
fred was  very  fond  of  water, —  of  swimming,  of  rowing.  She 
belonged  to  various  athletic  clubs.  Many  delicious  afternoons 
ehe  two  girls  spent  in  a  light  boat  on  the  river,  Winifred  al- 
ways rowing.  Indeed,  Winifred  seemed  to  delight  in  having 


822  THE  RAINBOW 

Ursula  in  her  charge,  in  giving  things  to  the  girl,  in  filling 
and  enrichening  her  life. 

So  that  Ursula  developed  rapidly  during  the  few  months 
of  her  intimacy  with  her  mistress.  Winifred  had  had  a  scien- 
tific education.  She  had  known  many  clever  people.  She 
wanted  to  bring  Ursula  to  her  own  position  of  thought. 

They  took  religion  and  rid  it  of  its  dogmas,  its  falsehoods. 
Winifred  humanized  it  all.  Gradually  it  dawned  upon  Ursula 
that  all  the  religion  she  knew  was  but  a  particular  clothing 
to  a  human  aspiration.  The  aspiration  was  the  real  thing, — 
the  clothing  was  a  matter  almost  of  national  taste  or  need. 
The  Greeks  had  a  naked  Apollo,  the  Christians  a  white-robed 
Christ,  the  Buddhists  a  royal  prince,  the  Egyptians  their 
Osiris.  Eeligions  were  local  and  religion  was  universal. 
Christianity  was  a  local  branch.  There  was  as  yet  no  assimila- 
tion of  local  religions  into  universal  religion. 

In  religion  there  were  the  two  great  motives  of  fear  and  love. 
The  motive  of  fear  was  as  great  as  the  motive  of  love.  Christi- 
anity accepted  crucifixion  to  escape  from  fear ;  "  Do  your 
worst  to  me,  that  I  may  have  no  more  fear  of  the  worst."  But 
that  which  was  feared  was  not  necessarily  all  evil,  and  that 
which  was  loved  not  necessarily  all  good.  Fear  shall  become 
reverence, « and  reverence  is  submission  in  identification;  love 
shall  become  triumph,  and  triumph  is  delight  in  identifica- 
tion. 

So  much  she  talked  of  religion,  getting  the  gist  of  many 
writings.  In  philosophy  she  was  brought  to  the  conclusion 
that  the  human  desire  is  the  criterion  of  all  truth  and  all 
good.  Truth  does  not  lie  beyond  humanity,  but  is  one  of 
the  products  of  the  human  mind  and  feeling.  There  is  really 
nothing  to  fear.  The  motive  of  fear  in  religion  is  base,  and 
must  be  left  to  the  ancient  worshippers  of  power,  worship  of 
Moloch.  \Ve  do  not  worship  power,  in  our  enlightened  souls. 
Power  is  degenerated  to  money  and  Napoleonic  stupidity. 

Ursula  could  not  help  dreaming  of  Moloch.  Her  God  was 
not  mild  and  gentle,  neither  Lamb  nor  Dove.  He  was  the 
lion  and  the  eagle.  Not  because  the  lion  and  the  eagle  had 
power,  but  because  they  were  proud  and  strong;  they  were 
themselves,  they  were  not  passive  subjects  of  some  shepherd, 
or  pets  of  some  loving  woman,  or  sacrifices  of  some  priest. 
She  was  weary  to  death  of  mild,  passive  lambs  and  monot- 
onous doves.  If  the  lamb  might  lie  down  with  the  lion,  it 
would  be  a  great  honour  to  the  lamb,  but  the  lion's  powerful 


j 

1 


SHAME  323 

heart  would  suffer  no  diminishing.  She  loved  the  dignity 
and  self-possession  of  lions. 

She  did  not  see  how  lambs  could  love.  Lambs  could  only 
be  loved.  They  could  only  be  afraid,  and  tremblingly  sub- 
mit to  fear,  and  become  sacrificial;  or  they  could  submit  to 
love,  and  become  beloveds.  In  both  they  were  passive.  Rag- 
ing, destructive  lovers,  seeking  the  moment  when  fear  is  great- 
est, and  triumph  is  greatest,  the  fear  not  greater  than  the  tri- 
umph, the  triumph  not  greater  than  the  fear,  these  were  no 
lambs  nor  doves.  She  stretched  her  own  limbs  like  a  lion  or  a 
wild  horse,  her  heart  was  relentless  in  its  desires.  It  would 
suffer  a  thousand  deaths,  but  it  would  still  be  a  lion's  heart 
when  it  rose  from  death,  a  fiercer  lion  she  would  be,  a  surer, 
knowing  herself  different  from  and  separate  from  the  great, 
conflicting  universe  that  was  not  herself. 

Winifred  Inger  was  also  interested  in  the  Women's  Move- 
ment. 

"  The  men  will  do  no  more, —  they  have  lost  the  capacity 
for  doing,"  said  the  elder  girl.  "  They  fuss  and  talk,  but 
they  are  really  inane.  They  make  everything  fit  into  an  old, 
inert  idea.  Love  is  a  dead  idea  to  them.  They  don't  come 
to  one  and  love  one,  they  come  to  an  idea,  and  they  say 
( You  are  my  idea,'  so  they  embrace  themselves.  As  if  I  were 
any  man's  idea !  As  if  I  exist  because  a  man  has  an  idea  of 
me !  As  if  I  will  be  betrayed  by  him,  lend  him  my  body  as  an 
instrument  for  his  idea,  to  be  a  mere  apparatus  of  his  dead 
theory.  But  they  are  too  fussy  to  be  able  to  act;  they  are 
all  impotent,  they  can't  take  a  woman.  They  come  to  their 
own  idea  every  time,  and  take  that.  They  are  like  serpents 
trying  to  swallow  themselves  because  they  are  hungry." 

Ursula  was  introduced  by  her  friend  to  various  women  and 
men,  educated,  unsatisfied  people,  who  still  moved  within  the 
smug  provincial  society  as  if  they  were  nearly  as  tame  as 
their  outward  behaviour  showed,  but  who  were  inwardly  raging 
and  mad. 

It  was  a  strange  world  the  girl  was  swept  into,  like  a  chaos, 
like  the  end  of  the  world.  She  was  too  young  to  understand 
it  all.  Yet  the  inoculation  passed  into  her,  through  her  love 
for  her  mistress. 

The  examination  came,  and  then  school  was  over.  It  was 
the  long  vacation.  Winifred  Inger  went  away  to  London. 
Ursula  was  left  alone  in  Cossethay.  A  terrible,  outcast,  al- 
most poisonous  despair  possessed  her.  It  was  no  use  doing 


324  THE  RAINBOW 

anything,  or  being  anything.  She  had  no  connection  with 
other  people.  Her  lot  was  isolated  and  deadly.  There  was 
nothing  for  her  anywhere,  but  this  black  disintegration.  Yet, 
.within  all  the  great  attack  of  disintegration  upon  her,  she 
remained  herself.  It  was  the  terrible  core  of  all  her  suffering, 
that  she  was  always  herself.  Never  could  she  escape  that: 
she  could  not  put  off  being  herself. 

She  still  adhered  to  Winifred  Inger.  But  a  sort  of  nausea 
was  coming  over  her.  She  loved  her  mistress.  But  a  heavy, 
clogged  sense  of  deadness  began  to  gather  upon  her,  from 
the  other  woman's  contact.  And  sometimes  she  thought  Wini- 
fred was  ugly,  clayey.  Her  female  hips  seemed  big  and 
earthy,  her  ankles  and  her  arms  were  too  thick.  She  wanted 
some  fine  intensity,  instead  of  this  heavy  cleaving  of  moist 
clay,  that  cleaves  because  it  has  no  life  of  its  own. 

Winifred  still  loved  Ursula.  She  had  a  passion  for  the  fine 
flame  of  the  girl,  she  served  her  endlessly,  would  have  done 
anything  for  her. 

"  Come  with  me  to  London,"  she  pleaded  to  the  girl.  "  I 
will  make  it  nice  for  you, —  you  shall  do  lots  of  things  you 
will  enjoy/' 

"  No,"  said  Ursula,  stubbornly  and  dully.  "  No,  I  don't 
want  to  go  to  London,  I  want  to  be  by  myself." 

Winifred  knew  what  this  meant.  She  knew  that  Ursula 
was  beginning  to  reject  her.  The  fine,  unquenchable  flame 
of  the  younger  girl  would  consent  no  more  to  mingle  with  the 
perverted  life  of  the  elder  woman.  Winifred  knew  it  would 
come.  But  she  too  was  proud.  At  the  bottom  of  her  was  a 
black  pit  of  despair.  She  knew  perfectly  well  that  Ursula 
would  cast  her  off. 

And  that  seemed  like  the  end  of  her  life.  But  she  was  too 
hopeless  to  rage.  Wisely,  economizing  what  was  left  of 
Ursula's  love,  she  went  away  to  London,  leaving  the  beloved 
girl  alone. 

And  after  a  fortnight,  Ursula's  letters  became  tender  again, 
loving.  Her  Uncle  Tom  had  invited  her  to  go  and  stay  with 
him.  He  was  managing  a  big,  new  colliery  in  Yorkshire. 
Would  Winifred  come  too? 

For  now  Ursula  was  imagining  marriage  for  Winifred. 
She  wanted  her  to  marry  her  Uncle  Tom.  Winifred  knew 
this.  She  said  she  would  come  to  Wiggiston.  She  would 
now  let  fate  do  as  it  liked  with  her,  since  there  was  nothing 
remaining  to  be  done.  Tom  Brangwen  also  saw  Ursula's 


SHAME  325 

intention.  He  too  was  at  the  end  of  his  desires.  He  had 
done  the  things  he  had  wanted  to.  They  had  all  ended  in  a 
disintegrated  lifelessness  of  soul,  which  he  hid  under  an  utterly 
tolerant  good-humour.  He  no  longer  cared  about  anything 
on  earth,  neither  man  nor  woman,  nor  God  nor  humanity. 
He  had  come  to  a  stability  of  nullification.  He  did  not  care 
any  more,  neither  about  his  body  nor  about  his  soul.  Only 
he  would  preserve  intact  his  own  life.  Only  the  simple,  super- 
ficial fact  of  living  persisted.  He  was  still  healthy.  He 
lived.  Therefore  he  would  fill  each  moment.  ,That  had  al- 
ways been  his  creed.  It  was  not  instinctive  easiness:  it  was 
the  inevitable  outcome  of  his  nature.  When  he  was  in  the 
absolute  privacy  of  his  own  life,  he  did  as  he  pleased,  un- 
scrupulous, without  any  ulterior  thought.  He  believed  neither 
in  good  nor  evil.  Each  moment  was  like  a  separate  little  is- 
land, isolated  from  time,  and  blank,  unconditioned  by  time. 

He  lived  in  a  large  new  house  of  red  brick,  standing  out- 
side a  mass  of  homogeneous  red-brick  dwellings,  called  Wiggis- 
ton.  Wiggiston  was  only  seven  years  old.  It  had  been  a 
hamlet  of  eleven  houses  on  the  edge  of  healthy,  half-agri- 
cultural country.  Then  the  great  seam  of  coal  had  been 
opened.  In  a  year  Wiggiston  appeared,  a  great  mass  of  pink- 
ish rows  of  thin,  unreal  dwellings  of  five  rooms  each.  The 
streets  were  like  visions  of  pure  ugliness ;  a  grey-black  macad- 
amized road,  asphalt  causeways,  held  in  between  a  flat  succes- 
sion of  wall,  window,  and  door,  a  new-brick  channel  that  be- 
gan nowhere,  and  ended  nowhere.  Everything  was  amor- 
phous, yet  everything  repeated  itself  endlessly.  Only  now  and 
then,  in  one  of  the  house-windows  vegetables  or  small  groceries 
were  displayed  for  sale. 

In  the  middle  of  the  town  was  a  large,  open,  shapeless 
space,  or  market-place,  of  black  trodden  earth,  surrounded  by 
the  same  flat  material  of  dwellings,  new  red-brick  becoming 
grimy,  small  oblong  windows,  and  oblong  doors,  repeated  end- 
lessly, with  just,  at  one  corner,  a  great  and  gaudy  public- 
house,  and  somewhere  lost  on  one  of  the  sides  of  the  square, 
a  large  window  opaque  and  darkish  green,'  which  was  the  post- 
office. 

The  place  had  the  strange  desolation  of  a  ruin.  Colliers 
hanging  about  in  gangs  and  groups,  or  passing  along  the 
asphalt  pavements  heavily  to  work,  seemed  not  like  living 
people,  but  like  spectres.  The  rigidity  of  the  blank  streets, 
the  homogeneous  amorphous  sterility  of  the  whole  suggested 


326  THE  RAINBOW 

death  rather  than  life.  There  was  no  meeting  place,  no  centre, 
no  artery,  no  organic  formation.  There  it  lay,  like  the  new 
foundations  of  a  red-brick  confusion  rapidly  spreading,  like  a 
skin-disease. 

Just  outside  of  this,  on  a  little  hill,  was  Tom  Brangwen's 
big,  red-brick  house.  It  looked  from  the  front  upon  the  edge 
of  the  place,  a  meaningless  squalor  of  ash-pits  and  closets  and 
irregular  rows  of  the  backs  of  houses,  each  with  its  small 
activity  made  sordid  by  barren  cohesion  with  the  rest  of  the 
small  activities.  Further  off  was  the  great  colliery  that  went 
night  and  day.  And  all  around  was  the  country,  green  with 
two  winding  streams,  ragged  with  gorse,  and  heath,  the  darker 
woods  in  the  distance. 

The  whole  place  was  just  unreal,  just  unreal.  Even  now, 
when  he  had  been  there  for  two  years,  Tom  Brangwen  did 
not  believe  in  the  actuality  of  the  place.  It  was  like  some 
gruesome  dream,  some  ugly,  dead,  amorphous  mood  become 
concrete. 

Ursula  and  Winifred  were  met  by*  the  motor  car  at  the 
raw  little  station,  and  drove  through  what  seemed  to  them 
like  the  horrible  raw  beginnings  of  something.  The  place 
was  a  moment  of  chaos  perpetuated,  persisting,  chaos  fixed 
and  rigid.  Ursula  was  fascinated  by  the  many  men  who  were 
there  —  groups  of  men  standing  in  the  streets,  four  or  five 
men  walking  in  a  gang  together,  their  dogs  running  behind  or 
before.  They  were  all  decently  dressed,  and  most  of  them 
rather  gaunt.  The  terrible  gaunt  repose  of  their  bearing  fasci- 
nated her.  Like  creatures  with  no  more  hope,  but  which  still 
live  and  have  passionate  being,  within  some  utterly  unliving 
shell,  they  passed  meaninglessly  along,  with  strange,  isolated 
dignity.  It  was  as  if  a  hard,  horny  shell  enclosed  them  all. 

Shocked  and  startled,  Ursula  was  carried  to  her  Uncle 
Tom's  house.  He  was  not  yet  at  home.  His  house  was 
simply,  but  well  furnished.  He  had  taken  out  a  dividing  wall, 
and  made  the  whole  front  of  the  house  into  a  large  library, 
with  one  end  devoted  to  his  science.  It  was  a  handsome  room, 
appointed  as  a  laboratory  and  reading  room,  but  giving  the 
same  sense  of  hard,  mechanical  activity,  activity  mechanical 
yet  inchoate,  and  looking  out  on  the  hideous  abstraction  of 
the  town,  and  at  the  green  meadows  and  rough  country  be- 
yond, and  at  the  great,  mathematical  colliery  on  the  other 
side. 


SHAME  32? 

They  saw  Tom  Brangwen  walking  up  the  curved  drive.  He 
was  getting  stouter,  but  with  his  bowler  hat  worn  well  set 
down  on  his  brows,  he  looked  manly,  handsome,  curiously  like 
any  other  man  of  action.  His  colour  was  as  fresh,  his  health 
as  perfect  as  ever,  he  walked  like  a  man  rather  absorbed. 

Winifred  Inger  was  startled  when  he  entered  the  library, 
his  coat  fastened  close  and  correct,  his  head  bald  to  the  crown, 
but  not  shiny,  rather  like  something  naked  that  one  is  ac- 
customed to  see  covered,  and  his  dark  eyes  liquid  and  formless. 
He  seemed  to  stand  in  the  shadow,  like  a  thing  ashamed. 
And  the  clasp  of  his  hand  was  so  soft  and  yet  so  forceful,  that 
it  chilled  the  heart.  She  was  afraid  of  him,  repelled  by  him, 
and  yet  attracted. 

He  looked  at  the  athletic,  seemingly  fearless  girl,  and  he 
detected  in  her  a  kinship  with  his  own  dark  corruption.  Im- 
mediately, he  knew  they  were  akin. 

His  manner  was  polite,  almost  foreign,  and  rather  cold. 
He  still  laughed  in  his  curious,  animal  fashion,  suddenly 
wrinkling  up  his  wide  nose,  and  showing  his  sharp  teeth.  The 
fine  beauty  of  his  skin  and  his  complexion,  some  almost 
waxen  quality,  hid  the  strange,  repellent  grossness  of  him,  the 
slight  sense  of  putrescence,  the  commonness  which  revealed  it- 
self in  his  rather  fat  thighs  and  loins. 

Winifred  saw  at  once  the  deferential,  slightly  servile, 
slightly  cunning  regard  he  had  for  Ursula,  which  made  the 
girl  at  once  so  proud  and  so  perplexed. 

"But  is  this  place  as  awful  as  it  looks  ?"  the  young -girl 
asked,  a  strain  in  her  eyes. 

"  It  is  just  what  it  looks,"  he  said.     "  It  hides  nothing." 

"  Why  are  the  men  so  sad  ?  " 

"  Are  they  sad  ?  "  he  replied. 

"  They  seem  unutterably,  unutterably  sad,"  said  Ursula,  out 
of  a  passionate  throat. 

"I  don't  think  they  are  that.  They  just  take  it  for 
granted." 

"What  do  they  take  for  granted?" 

"  This  —  the  pits  and  the  place  altogether." 

"  Why  don't  they  alter  it  ?  "  she  passionately  protested. 

"  They  believe  they  must  alter  themselves  to  fit  the  pits  and 
the  place,  rather  than  alter  the  pits  and  the  place  to  fit  them- 
selves. It  is  easier,"  he  said. 

"  And  you  agree  with  them,"  burst  out  his  niece,  unable  to 


328  THE  RAINBOW 

bear  it.  "  You  think  like  they  do  —  that  living  human  beings 
must  be  taken  and  adapted  to  all  kinds  of  horrors.  We  could 
easily  do  without  the  pits." 

He  smiled,  uncomfortably,  cynically.  Ursula  felt  again  the 
revolt  of  hatred  from  him. 

"  I  suppose  their  lives  are  not  really  so  bad/'  said  Winifred 
Inger,  superior  to  the  Zolaesque  tragedy. 

He  turned  with  his  polite,  distant  attention. 

"  Yes,  they  are  pretty  bad.  The  pits  are  very  deep,  and 
liot,  and  in  some  places  wet.  The  men  die  of  consumption 
fairly  often.  But  they  earn  good  wages." 

"  How  gruesome !  "  said  Winifred  Inger. 

"  Yes,"  he  replied  gravely.  It  was  his  grave,  solid,  self- 
contained  manner  which  made  him  so  much  respected  as  a 
colliery  manager. 

The  servant  came  in  to  ask  where  they  would  have  tea. 

"  Put  it  in  the  summer-house,  Mrs.  Smith,"  he  said. 

The  fair-haired,  good-looking  young  woman  went  out. 

"  Is  she  married  and  in  service  ?  "  asked  Ursula. 

"  She  is  a  widow.  Her  husband  died  of  consumption  a 
little  while  ago."  Brangwen  gave  a  sinister  little  laugh. 
"  He  lay  there  in  the  house-place  at  her  mother's,  and  five 
or  six  other  people  in  the  house,  and  died  very  gradually.  I 
asked  her  if  his  death  wasn't  a  great  trouble  to  her.  '  Well,' 
she  said,  '  he  was  very  fretful  towards  the  last,  never  satisfied, 
never  easy,  always  fret- fretting,  an'  never  knowing  what  would 
satisfy  him.  So  in  one  way  it  was  a  relief  when  it  was  over 
—  for  him  and  for  everybody.'  They  had  only  been  married 
two  years,  and  she  has  one  boy.  I  asked  her  if  she  hadn't  been 
very  happy.  '  Oh,  yes,  sir,  we  was  very  comfortable  at  first, 
till  he  took  bad, —  oh,  we  was  very  comfortable, —  oh,  yes, — 
but,  you  see,  you  get  used  to  it.  I've  had  my  father  and  two 
brothers  go  off  just  the  same.  You  get  used  to  it.' ': 

"  It's  a  horrible  thing  to  get  used  to,"  said  Winifred  Inger, 
with  a  shudder. 

"  Yes,"  he  said,  still  smiling.  "  But  that's  how  they  are. 
She'll  be  getting  married  again  directly.  One  man  or  an- 
other —  it  does  not  matter  very  much.  They're  all  colliers." 

"What  do  you  mean?"  asked  Ursula.  "They're  all  col- 
liers?" 

"  It  is  with  the'  women  as  with  us,"  he  replied.  "  Her 
husband  was  John  Smith,  loader.  We  reckoned  him  as  a 
loader,  he  reckoned  himself  as  a  loader,  and  so  she  knew  he 


SHAME  329 

represented  his  job.  Marriage  and  home  is  a  little  side-show. 
'The  women  know  it  right  enough,  and  take  it  for  what  it's 
worth.  One  man  or  another,  it  doesn't  matter  all  the  world. 
The  pit  matters.  Bound  the  pit  there  will  always  be  the  side- 
shows, plenty  of  'em." 

He  looked  round  at  the  red  chaos,  the  rigid,  amorphous  con- 
fusion of  Wiggiston. 

"  Every  man  his  own  little  side-show,  his  home,  but  the 
pit  owns  every  man.  The  women  have  what  is  left.  What's 
left  of  this  man,  or  what  is  left  of  that  —  it  doesn't  matter 
altogether.  The  pit  takes  all  that  really  matters." 

"  It  is  the  same  everywhere,"  burst  out  Winifred.  "  It  is 
the  office,  or  the'  shop,  or  the  business  that  gets  the  man, 
the  woman  gets  the  bit  the  shop  can't  digest.  What  is  he  at 
home,  a  man  ?  He  is  a  meaningless  lump  —  a  standing  ma- 
chine, a  machine  out  of  work." 

"  They  know  they  are  sold,"  said  Tom  Brangwen.  "  That's 
where  it  is.  They  know  they  are  sold  to  their  job.  If  a 
woman  talks  her  throat  out,  what  difference  can  it  make? 
The  man's  sold  to  his  job.  So  the  women  don't  bother.  They 
take  what  they  can  catch  —  and  vogue  la  galere." 

"  Aren't  they  very  strict  here  ?  "  asked  Miss  Inger. 

"  Oh,  no.  Mrs.  Smith  has  two  sisters  who  have  just 
changed  husbands.  They're  not  very  particular  —  neither  are 
they  very  interested.  They  go  dragging  along  what  is  left 
from  the  pits.  They're  not  interested  enough  to  be  very 
immoral  —  it  all  amounts  to  the  same  thing,  moral  or  im- 
moral —  just  a  question  of  pit-wages.  The  most  moral  duke  in 
England  makes  two  hundred  thousand  a  year  out  of  these  pits. 
He  keeps  the  morality  end  up." 

Ursula  sat  black-souled  and  very  bitter,  hearing  the  two 
of  them  talk.  There  seemed  something  ghoulish  even  in  their 
very  deploring  of  the  state  of  things.  They  seemed  to  take 
a  ghoulish  satisfaction  in  it.  The  pit  was  the  great  mistress. 
Ursula  looked  out  of  the  window  and  saw  the  proud,  demon- 
like  colliery  with  her  wheels  twinkling  in  the  heavens,  the 
formless,  squalid  mass  of  the  town  lying  aside.  It  was  the 
squalid  heap  of  side-shows.  The  pit  was  the  main  show,  the 
raison  d'etre  of  all. 

How  terrible  it  was !  There  was  a  horrible  fascination  in 
it, —  human  bodies  and  lives  subjected  in  slavery  to  that 
symmetric  monster  of  the  colliery.  There  was  a  swooning, 
perverse  satisfaction  in  it.  For  a  moment  she  was  dizzy. 


330  THE  RAINBOW 

.  Then  she  recovered,  felt  herself  in  a  great  loneliness,  wherein 
she  was  sad  but  free.  She  had  departed.  No  more  would 
she  subscribe  to  the  great  colliery,  to  the  great  machine  which 
has  taken  us  all  captives.  In  her  soul,  she  was  against  it, 
she  disowned  even  its  power.  It  had  only  to  be  forsaken  to 
be  inane,  meaningless.  And  she  knew  it  was  meaningless. 
But  it  needed  a  great,  passionate  effort  of  will  on  her  part, 
seeing  the  colliery,  still  to  maintain  her  knowledge  that  it 
was  meaningless. 

But  her  Uncle  Tom  and  her  mistress  remained  there  among 
the  horde,  cynically  reviling  the  monstrous  state  and  yet  ad- 
hering to  it,  like  a  man  who  reviles  his  mistress,  yet  who  is  in 
love  with  her.  She  knew  her  Uncle  Tom  perceived  what  was 
going  on.  But  she  knew  moreover  that  in  spite  of  his  criti- 
cism and  condemnation,  he  still  wanted  the  great  machine. 
His  only  happy  moments,  his  only  moments  of  pure  freedom 
were  when  he  was  serving  the  machine.  Then,  and  then  only, 
when  the  machine  caught  him  up,  was  he  free  from  the  hatred 
of  himself,  could  he  act  wholely,  without  cynicism  and  un- 
reality. 

His  real  mistress  was  the  machine,  and  the  real  mistress  of 
Winifred  was  the  machine.  She  too,  Winifred,  worshipped 
the  impure  abstraction,  the  mechanisms  of  matter.  There, 
there,  in  the  machine,  in  service  of  the  machine,  was  she  free 
from  the  clog  and  degradation  of  human  feeling.  There,  in 
the  monstrous  mechanism  that  held  all  matter,  living  or  dead, 
in  its  service,  did  she  achieve  her  consummation  and  her  per- 
fect unison,  her  immortality. 

Hatred  sprang  up  in  Ursula's  heart.  If  she  could  she 
would  smash  the  machine.  Her  soul's  action  should  be  the 
smashing  of  the  great  machine.  If  she  could  destroy  the  col- 
liery, and  make  all  the  men  of  Wiggiston  out  of  work,  she 
would  do  it.  Let  them  starve  and  grub  in  the  earth  for  roots, 
rather  than  serve  such  a  Moloch  as  this. 

She  hated  her  Uncle  Tom,  she  hated  Winifred  Inger.  They 
went  down  to  the  summer-house  for  tea.  It  was  a  pleasant 
place  among  a  few  trees,  at  the  end  of  a  tiny  garden,  on  the 
edge  of  a  field.  Her  Uncle  Tom  and  Winifred  seemed  to  jeer 
at  her,  to  cheapen  her.  She  was  miserable  and  desolate.  But 
she  would  never  give  way. 

Her  coldness  for  Winifred  should  never  cease.  She  knew 
it  was  over  between  them.  She  saw  gross,  ugly  movements 
in  her  mistress,  she  saw  a  clayey,  inert,  unquickened  flesh, 


SHAME  331 

that  reminded  her  of  the  great  prehistoric  lizards.  One  day 
her  Uncle  Tom  came  in  out  of  the  broiling  sunshine  heated 
from  walking.  Then  the  perspiration  stood  out  upon  his  head 
and  brow,  his  hand  was  wet  and  hot  and  suffocating  in  its 
clasp.  He  too  had  something  marshy  about  him  —  the  suc- 
culent moistness  and  turgidity,  and  the  same  brackish,  nause- 
ating effect  of  a  marsh,  where  life  and  decaying  are  one. 

He  was  repellent  to  her,  who  was  so  dry  and  fine  in  her 
fire.  Her  very  bones  seemed  to  bid  him  keep  his  distance 
from  her. 

It  was  in  these  weeks  that  Ursula  grew  up.  She  stayed 
two  weeks  at  Wiggiston,  and  she  hated  it.  All  was  grey,  dry 
ash,  cold  and  dead  and  ugly.  But  she  stayed. .  She  stayed 
also  to  get  rid  of  Winifred.  The  girl's  hatred  and  her  sense 
of  repulsiveness  in  her  mistress  and  in  her  uncle  seemed  to 
throw  the  other  two  together.  They  drew  together  as  if 
against  her. 

In  hardness  and  bitterness  of  soul,  Ursula  knew  that  Wini- 
fred was  become  her  uncle's  lover.  She  was  glad.  She  had 
loved  them  both.  Now  she  wanted  to  be  rid  of  them  both. 
Their  marshy,  bitter-sweet  corruption  came  sick  and  unwhole- 
some in  her  nostrils.  Anything,  to  get  out  of  the  foetid  air. 
She  would  leave  them  both  for  ever,  leave  for  ever  their 
strange,  soft,  half -corrupt  element.  Anything  to  get  away. 

One  night  Winifred  came  all  burning  into  Ursula's  bed, 
and  put  her  arms  round  the  girl,  holding  her  to  herself  in  spite 
of  unwillingness,  and  said, 

"  Dear,  my  dear, —  shall  I  marry  Mr.  Brangwen  —  shall 
I?" 

The  clinging,  heavy,  muddy  question  weighed  on  Ursula 
intolerably. 

"  Has  he  asked  you  ?  "  she  said,  using  all  her  might  of  hard 
resistance. 

"  He's  asked  me,"  said  Winifred.  "  Do  you  want  me  to 
marry  him,  Ursula  ?  " 

"Yes,"  said  Ursula. 

The  arms  tightened  more  on  her. 

"  I  knew  you  did,  my  sweet  —  and  I  will  marry  him. 
You're  fond  of  him,  aren't  you  ?  " 

"  I've  been  awfully  fond  of  him  —  ever  since  I  was  a  child." 

"  I  know  —  I  know.  I  can  see  what  you  like  in  him.  He 
is  a  man  by  himself,  he  has  something  apart  from  the  rest." 

"  Yes."  said  Ursula. 


332  THE  RAINBOW 

"  But  he's  not  like  you,  my  dear  —  ha,  he's  not  as  good  as 
you.  There's  something  even  objectionable  in  him." 

Ursula  was  silent. 

"  But  I'll  marry  him,  my  dear  —  it  will  be  best.  Now  say 
you  love  me/' 

A  sort  of  profession  was  extorted  out  of  the  girl.  Never- 
theless her  mistress  went  away  sighing,  to  weep  in  her  own 
chamber. 

In  two  days'  time  Ursula  left  Wiggiston.  Miss  Inger  went 
to  Nottingham.  There  was  an  engagement  between  her  and 
Tom  Brangwen,  which  the  uncle  seemed  to  vaunt  as  if  it  were 
an  assurance  of  his  validity. 

Brangwen  and  Winifred  Inger  continued  engaged  for  an- 
other term.  Then  they  married.  Brangwen  had  reached  the 
age  when  he  wanted  children.  He  wanted  children.  Neither 
marriage  nor  the  domestic  establishment  meant  anything  to 
him.  He  wanted  to  propagate  himself.  He  knew  what  he 
was  doing.  He  had  the  instinct  of  a  growing  inertia,  of  a 
thing  that  chooses  its  place  of  rest  in  which  to  lapse  into 
apathy,  complete,  profound  indifference.  He  would  let  the 
machinery  carry  him;  husband,  father,  pit-manager,  warm 
clay  lifted  through  the  recurrent  action  of  day  after  day  by 
the  great  machine  from  which  it  derived  its  motion.  As  for 
Winifred,  she  was  an  educated  woman,  and  of  the  same  sort  as 
himself.  She  would  make  a  good  companion.  She  was  his 
mate. 


CHAPTER  XIII 
THE  MAN'S  WORLD 

UESULA  came  back  to  Cossethay  to  fight  with  her 
mother.  Her  schooldays  were  over.  She  had  passed 
the  matriculation  examination.  Now  she  came  home 
to  face  that  empty  period  between  school  and  pos- 
sible marriage. 

At  first  she  thought  it  would  be  just  like  holidays  all  the 
time,  she  would  feel  just  free.  Her  soul  was  in  chaos,  blinded 
suffering,  maimed.  She  had  no  will  left  to  think  about  her- 
self. For  a  time  she  must  just  lapse. 

But  very  shortly  she  found  herself  up  against  her  mother. 
Her  mother  had,  at  this  time,  the  power  to  irritate  and  madden 
the  girl  continuously.  There  were  already  seven  children, 
yet  Mrs.  Brangwen  was  again  with  child,  the  ninth  she  had 
borne.  One  had  died  of  diphtheria  in  infancy. 

Even  this  fact  of  her  mother's  pregnancy  enraged  the  eldest 
girl.  Mrs.  Brangwen  was  so  complacent,  so  utterly  fulfilled 
in  her  breeding.  She  would  not  have  the  existence  at  all  of 
anything  but  the  immediate,  physical,  common  things. 
Ursula,'  inflamed  in  soul,  was  suffering  all  the  anguish  of 
youth's  reaching  for  some  unknown  ideal,  that  it  can't  grasp, 
can't  even  distinguish  or  conceive.  Maddened,  she  was  fight- 
ing all  the  darkness  she  was  up  against.  And  part  of  this 
darkness  was  her  mother.  To  limit,  as  -her  mother  did,  every- 
thing to  the  ring  of  physical  considerations,  and  complacently 
to  reject  the  reality  of  anything  else,  was  horrible.  Not  a 
thing  did  Mrs.  Brangwen  care  about,  but  the  children,  the 
house,  and  a  little  local  gossip.  And  she  would  not  be  touched, 
.she  would  let  nothing  else  live  near  her.  She  went  about, 
big  with  child,  slovenly,  easy,  having  a  certain  lax  dignity, 
taking  her  own  time,  pleasing  herself,  always,  always  doing 
things  for  the  children,  and  feeling  that  she  thereby  fulfilled 
the  whole  of  womanhood. 

This  long  trance  of  complacent  child-bearing  had  kept  her 
young  and  undeveloped.  She  was  scarcely  a  day  older  than 

333 


334,  THE  RAINBOW 

when  Gudrun  was  born.  All  these  years  nothing  had  hap- 
pened save  the  coming  of  the  children,  nothing  had  mattered 
but  the  bodies  ot  her  babies.  As  her  children  came  into  con- 
sciousness, as  they  began  to  suffer  their  own  fulfilment,  she 
cast  them  off.  But  she  remained  dominant  in  the  house. 
Brangwen  continued  in  a  kind  of  rich  drowse  of  physical  heat, 
in  connection  with  his  wife.  They  were  neither  of  them  quite 
personal,  quite  denned  as  individuals,  so  much  were  they  per- 
vaded by  the  physical  heat  of  breeding  and  rearing  their  young. 

How  Ursula  resented  it,  how  she  fought  against  the  close, 
physical,  limited  life  of  herded  domesticity!  Calm,  placid, 
unshakeable  as  ever,  Mrs.  Brangwen  went  about  in  her  domi- 
nance of  physical  maternity. 

There  were  battles.  Ursula  would  fight  for  things  that  mat- 
tered to  her.  She  would  have  the  children  less  rude  and 
tyrannical,  she  would  have  a  place  in  the  house.  But  her 
mother  pulled  her  down,  pulled  her  down.  With  all  the  cun- 
ning instinct  of  a  breeding  animal,  Mrs.  Brangwen  ridiculed 
and  held  cheap  Ursula's  passions,  her  ideas,  her  pronuncia- 
tions. Ursula  would  try  to  insist,  in  her  own  home,  on  the 
right  of  women  to  take  equal  place  with  men  in  the  field  of 
action  and  work. 

"  Ay/'  said  the  mother,  "  there's  a  good  crop  of  stockings 
lying  ripe  for  mending.  Let  that  be  your  field  of  action." 

Ursula  disliked  mending  stockings,  and  this  retort  mad- 
dened her.  She  hated  her  mother  bitterly.  After  a  few 
weeks  of  enforced  domestic  life,  she  had  had  enough  of  her 
home.  The  commonness,  the  triviality,  the  immediate  mean- 
inglessness  of  it  all  drove  her  to  frenzy.  She  talked  and 
stormed  ideas,  she  corrected  and  nagged  at  the  children,  she 
turned  her  back  in  silent  contempt  on  her  breeding  mother, 
who  treated  her  with  supercilious  indifference,  as  if  she  were  a 
pretentious  child  not  to  be  taken  seriously. 

Brangwen  was  sometimes  dragged  into  the  trouble.  He 
loved  Ursula,  therefore  he  always  had  a  sense  of  shame,  al- 
most of  betrayal,  when  he  turned  on  her.  So  he  turned 
fiercely  and  scathingly,  and  with  a  wholesale  brutality  that 
made  Ursula  go  white,  mute,  and  numb.  Her  feelings  seemed 
to  be  becoming  deadened  in  her,  her  temper  hard  and  cold. 

Brangwen  himself  was  in  one  of  his  states  of  flux.  After 
all  these  years,  he  began  to  see  a  loophole  of  freedom.  For 
twenty  years  he  had  gone  on  at  this  office  as  a  draughtsman, 
doing  work  in  which  he  had  no  interest,  because  it  seemed  his 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  336 

allotted  work.  The  growing  up  of  his  daughters,  their  de- 
veloping rejection  of  old  forms  set  him  also  free. 

He  was  a  man  of  ceaseless  activity.  Blindly,  like  a  mole, 
he  pushed  his  way  out  of  the  earth  that  covered  him,  working 
always  away  from  the  physical  element  in  which  his  life  was 
captured.  Slowly,  blindly,  gropingly,  with  what  initiative  was 
left  to  him,  he  made  his  way  towards  individual  expression 
and  individual  form. 

At  last,  after  twenty  years,  he  came  back  to  his  wood- 
carving,  almost  to  the  point  where  he  had  left  off  his  Adam 
and  Eve  panel,  when  he  was  courting.  But  now  he  had  knowl- 
edge and  skill  without  vision.  He  saw  the  puerility  of  his 
young  conceptions,  he  saw  the  unreal  world  in  which  they 
had  been  conceived.  He  new  had  a  new  strength  in  his  sense 
of  reality.  He  felt  as  if  he  were  real,  as  if  he  handled  real 
things.  He  had  worked  for  many  years  at  Cossethay,  build- 
ing the  organ  for  the  church,  restoring  the  wood-work,  gradu- 
ally coming  to  a  knowledge  of  beauty  in  the  plain  labours. 
Now  he  wanted  again  to  carve  things  that  were  utterances  of 
himself. 

But  he  could  not  quite  hitch  on  —  always  he  was  too  busy, 
too  uncertain,  confused.  Wavering,  he  began  to  study  model- 
ling. To  his  surprise  he  found  he  could  do  it.  Modelling  in 
clay,  in  plaster,  he  produced  beautiful  reproductions,  really 
beautiful.  Then  he  set-to  to  make  a  head  of  Ursula,  in  high 
relief,  in  the  Donatello  manner.  In  his  first  passion,  he  got 
a  beautiful  suggestion  of  his  desire.  But  the  pitch  of  concen- 
tration would  not  come.  With  a  little  ash  in  his  mouth  he 
gave  up.  He  continued  to  copy,  or  to  make  designs  by  selec- 
ting motives  from  classic  stuff.  He  loved  the  Delia  Robbia 
and  Donatello  as  he  had  loved  Fra  Angelico  when  he  was  a 
young  man.  His  work  had  some  of  the  freshness,  the  naive 
alertness  of  the  early  Italians.  But  it  was  only  reproduction. 

Having  reached  his  limit  in  modelling,  he  turned  to  paint- 
ing. But  he  tried  water-colour  painting  after  the  manner  of 
any  other  amateur.  He  got  his  results  but  was  not  much 
interested.  After  one  or  two  drawings  of  his  beloved  church, 
which  had  the  same  alertness  as  his  modelling,  but  seemed  to 
be  incongruous  with  the  modern  atmospheric  way  of  painting, 
so  that  his  church  tower  stood  up,  really  stood  and  asserted 
its  standing,  but  was  ashamed  of  its  own  lack  of  meaning, 
he  turned  away  again. 

He  took  up  jewellery,  read  Benvenuto  Cellini,  pored  over 


336  THE  RAINBOW 

reproductions  of  ornament,  and  began  to  make  pendants  in 
silver  and  pearl  and  matrix.  The  first  things  he  did/ in  his 
start  of  discovery,  were  really  beautiful.  Those  later  were 
more  imitative.  But,  starting  with  his  wife,  he  made  a  pen- 
dant each  for  all  his  womenfolk.  Then  he  made  rings  and 
bracelets. 

Then  he  took  up  beaten  and  chiselled  metal  work.  When 
Ursula  left  school,  he  was  making  a  silver  bowl  of  lovely 
shape.  How  he  delighted  in  it,  almost  lusted  after  it. 

All  this  time  his  only  connection  writh  the  real  outer  world 
was  through  his  winter  evening  classes,  which  brought  him 
into  contact  with  state  education.  About  all  the  rest,  he 
was  oblivious,  and  entirely  indifferent  —  even  about  the  war. 
The  nation  did  not  exist  to  him.  He  was  in  a  private  retreat 
of  his  own,  that  had  neither  nationality,  nor  any  great  ad- 
herent. 

Ursula  watched  the  newspapers,  vaguely,  concerning  the 
war  in  South  Africa.  They  made  her  miserable,  and  she 
tried  to  have  as  little  to  do  with  them  as  possible.  But  Skre- 
bensky was  out  there.  He  sent  her  an  occasional  post-card. 
But  it  was  as  if  she  were  a  blank  wall  in  his  direction,  with- 
out windows  or  outgoing.  She  adhered  to  the  Skrebensky 
of  her.  memory. 

Her  love  for  Winifred  Inger  wrenched  her  life  as  it  seemed . 
from  the  roots  and  native  soil  where  Skrebensky  had  belonged 
to  it,  and  she  was  aridly  transplanted.  He  was  really  only  a 
memory.  She  revived  his  memory  with  strange  passion,  after 
the  departure  of  Winifred.  He  was  to  her  almost  the  symbol 
of  her  real  life.  It  was  as  if,  through  him,  in  him,  she  might 
return  to  her  own  self,  which  she  was  before  she  had  loved 
Winifred,  before  this  deadness  had  come  upon  her,  this  piti- 
less transplanting.  But  even  her  memories  were  the  work 
of  her  imagination. 

She  dreamed  of  him  and  her  as  they  had  been  together. 
She  could  not  dream  of  him  progressively,  of  what  he  was 
doing  now,  of  what  relation  he  would  have  to  her  now.  Only 
sometimes  she  wept  to  think  how  cruelly  she  had  suffered 
when  he  left  her, —  ah,  Iww  she  had  suffered!  She  remem- 
bered what  she  had  written  in  her  diary ; 

"  If  I  were  the  moon,  I  know  where  I  would  fall  down." 

Ah,  it  was  a  dull  agony  to  her  to  remember  what  she  had 
been  then.  For  it  was  remembering  a  dead  self.  All  that 
was  dead  after  Winifred.  She  knew  the  corpse  of  her  young 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  337 

loving  self,  she  knew  its  grave.  And  the  young  loving  self 
she  mourned  for  had  scarcely  existed,  it  was  the  creature  of 
her  imagination. 

Deep  within  her  a  cold  despair  remained  unchanging  and 
unchanged.  No  one  would  ever  love  her  now  —  she  would 
love  no  one.  The  body  of  love  was  killed  in  her  after  Wini- 
fred, there  was  something  of  the  corpse  in  her.  She  would 
live,  she  would  go  on,  but  she  would  have  no  lovers,  no  lover 
would  want  her  any  more.  She  herself  would  want  no  lover. 
The  vividest  little  flame  of  desire  was  extinct  in  her  for  ever. 
The  tiny,  vivid  germ  that  contained  the  bud  of  her  real  self, 
her  real  love,  was  killed,  she  would  go  on  growing  as  a  plant, 
she  would  do  her  best  to  produce  her  minor  flowers,  but  her 
leading  flower  was  dead  before  it  was  born,  all  her  growth 
was  the  conveying  of  a  corpse  of  hope. 

The  miserable  weeks  went  on,  in  the  poky  house  crammed 
with  children.  What  was  her  life  —  a  sordid,,  formless,  dis- 
integrated nothing;  Ursula  Brangwen  a  person  without  worth 
or  importance,  living  in  the  mean  village  of  Cossethay,  within 
the  sordid  scope  of  Ilkeston.  Ursula  Brangwen,  at  seventeen, 
worthless  and  unvalued,  neither  wanted  nor  needed  by  any- 
body, and  conscious  herself  of  her  own  dead  value.  It  would 
not  bear  thinking  of. 

But  still  her  dogged  pride  held  its  own.  She  might  be  de- 
filed, she  might  be  a  corpse  that  should  never  be  loved,  she 
might  be  a  core-rotten  stalk  living  upon  the  food  that  others 
provided ;  yet  she  would  give  in  to  nobody. 

Gradually  she  became  conscious  that  she  could  not  go  on 
living  at  home  as  she  was  doing,  without  place  or  meaning 
or  worth.  The  very  children  that  went  to  school  held  her 
uselessness  in  contempt.  She  must  do  something. 

Her  father  said  she  had  plenty  to  do  to  help  her  mother. 
From  her  parents  she  would  never  get  more  than  a  hit  in  the 
face.  She  was  not  a  practical  person.  She  thought  of  wild 
things,  of  running  away  and  becoming  a  domestic  servant, 
of  asking  some  man  to  take  her. 

She  wrote  to  the  mistress  of  the  High  School  for  advice 

"  I  cannot  see  very  clearly  what  you  should  do,  Ursula/5 
came  the  reply,  "unless  you  are  willing  to  become  an  ele- 
mentary school  teacher.  You  have  matriculated,  and  that 
qualifies  you  to  take  a  post  as  uncertificated  teacher  in  any 
school,  at  a  salary  of  about  fifty  pounds  a  year. 

"  I  cannot  tell  you  how  deeply  I  sympathize  with  you  in 


338  THE  RAINBOW 

your  desire  to  do  something.  You  will  learn  that  mankind 
is  a  great  body  of  which  you  are  one  useful  member,  you  will 
take  your  own  place  at  the  great  task  which  humanity  is 
trying  to  fulfil.  That  will  give  you  a  satisfaction  and  a  self- 
respect  which  nothing  else  could  give." 

Ursula's  heart  sank.  It  was  a  cold,  dreary  satisfaction  to 
think  of.  Yet  her  cold  will  acquiesced.  This  was  what  she 
wanted. 

"  You  have  an  emotional  nature,"  the  letter  went  on,  "  a 
quick  natural  response.  If  only  you  could  learn  patience  and 
self-discipline,  I  do  not  see  why  you  should  not  make  a  good 
teacher.  The  least  you  could  do  is  to  try.  You  need  only 
serve  a  year,  or  perhaps  two  years,  as  uncertificated  teacher. 
Then  you  would  go  to  one  of  the  training  colleges,  where  I 
hope  you  would  take  your  degree.  I  most  strongly  urge  and 
advise  you  to  keep  up  your  studies  always  with  the  intention 
of  taking  a  degree.  That  will  give  you  a  qualification  and  a 
position  in  the  world,  and  will  give  you  more  scope  to  choose 
your  own  way. 

66 1  shall  be  proud  to  see  one  of  my  girls  win  her  own 
economical  independence,  which  means  so  much  more  than 
it  seems.  I  shall  be  glad  indeed  to  know  that  one  more  of 
my  girls  has  provided  for  herself  the  means  of  freedom  to 
choose  for  herself." 

It  all  sounded  grim  and  desperate.  Ursula  rather  hated  it. 
But  her  mother's  contempt  -and  her  father's  harshness  had 
made  her  raw  at  the  quick,  she  knew  the  ignominy  of  being 
a  hanger-on,  she  felt  the  festering  thorn  of  her  mother's 
animal  estimation. 

At  length  she  had  to  speak.  Hard  and  shut  down  and 
silent  within  herself,  she  slipped  out  one  evening  to  the  work- 
shed.  She  heard  the  tap-tap-tap  of  the  hammer  upon  the 
metal.  Her  father  lifted  his  head  as  the  door  opened.  His 
face  was  ruddy  and  bright  with  instinct,  as  when  he  was  a 
youth,  his  black  moustache  was  cut  close  over  his  wide  mouth, 
his  black  hair  was  fine  and  close  as  ever.  But  there  was 
about  him  an  abstraction,  a  sort  of  instrumental  detachment 
from  human  things.  He  was  a  worker.  He  watched  his 
daughter's  hard,  expressionless  face.  A  hot  anger  came  over 
his  breast  and  belly. 

"  What  now  ?  "  he  said. 

"  Can't  I,"  she  answered,  looking  aside,  not  looking  at  him, 
"can't  I  go  out  to  work?" 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  339 

"  Go  out  to  work,  what  for  ?  " 

His  voice  was  so  strong,  and  ready,  and  vibrant.  It  irri- 
tated her. 

"  I  want  some  other  life  than  this." 

A  flash  of  strong  rage  arrested  all  his  blood  for  a  moment. 

"  Some  other  life  ?  "  he  repeated.  "  Why,  what  other  life 
do  you  want  ?  " 

She  hesitated. 

"  Something  else  besides  housework  and  hanging  about. 
And  I  want  to  earn  something." 

Her  curious,  brutal  hardness  of  speech,  and  the  fierce  in- 
vincibility of  her  youth,  which  ignored  him,  made  him  also 
harden  with  anger. 

"  And  how  do  you  think  you're  going  to  earn  anything  ?  " 
he  asked. 

"  I  can  become  a  teacher  —  I'm  qualified  by  my  ma- 
trie." 

He  .wished  her  matric.  in  hell. 

"  And  how  much  are  you  qualified  to  earn  by  your  matric.  ?  " 
he  asked,  jeering. 

"  Fifty  pounds  a  year,"  she  said. 

He  was  silent,  his  power  taken  out  of  his  hand. 

He  had  always  hugged  a  secret  pride  in  the  fact  that  his 
daughters  need  not  go  out  to  work.  With  his  wife's  money 
and  his  own  they  had  four  hundred  a  year.  They  could  draw 
on  the  capital  if  need  be  later  on.  He  was  not  afraid  for  his 
old  age.  His  daughters  might  be  ladies. 

Fifty  pound  a  year  was  a  pound  a  week  —  which  was 
enough  for  her  to  live  on  independently. 

"  And  what  sort  of  a  teacher  do  you  think  you'd  make  ? 
You  haven't  the  patience  of  a  Jack-gnat  with  your  own 
brothers  and  sisters,  let  alone  with  a  class  of  children.  And 
I  thought  you  didn't  like  dirty,  board-school  brats." 

"  They're  not  all  dirty." 

"  You'd  find  they're  not  all  clean." 

There  was  silence  in  the  workshop.  The  lamplight  fell  on 
the  burned  silver  bowl  that  lay  before  him,  on  mallet  and 
furnace  and  chisel.  Brangwen  stood  with  a  queer,  cat-like 
light  on  his  face,  almost  like  a  smile.  But  it  was  no  smile, 

"Can  I  try?  "she  said. 

"You  can  do  what  the  deuce  you  like,  and  go  where  you 
like." 

Her  face  was  fixed  and  expressionless  and  indifferent.     It 


340  THE  RAINBOW 

always  sent  him  to  a  pitch  of  frenzy  to  see  it  like  that.  He 
kept  perfectly  still. 

Cold,  without  any  betrayal  of  feeling,  she  turned  and  left 
the  shed.  He  worked  on,  with  all  his  nerves  jangled.  Then 
he  had  to  put  down  his  tools  and  go  into  the  house. 

In  a  bitter  tone  of  anger  and  contempt  he  told  his  wife. 
Ursula  was  present.  There  was  a  brief  altercation,  closed  by 
Mrs.  Brangwen's  saying,  in  a  tone  of  biting  superiority  and 
indifference. 

"Let  her  find  out  what  it's  like.  She'll  soon  have  had 
enough." 

The  matter  was  left  there.  But  Ursula  considered  herself 
free  to  act.  For  some  days  she  made  no  move.  She  was 
reluctant  to  take  the  cruel  step  of  finding  work,  for  she  shrank 
with  extreme  sensitiveness  and  shyness  from  new  contact, 
new  situations.  Then  at  length  a  sort  of  doggedness  drove 
her.  Her  soul  was  full  of  bitterness. 

She  went  to  the  Free  Library  in  Ilkeston,  copied  out  ad- 
dresses from  the  Schoolmistress.,  and  wrote  for  application 
forms.  After  two  days  she  rose  early  to  meet  the  postman. 
As  she  expected,  there  were  three  long  envelopes. 

Her  heart  beat  painfully  as  she  went  up  with  them  to  her 
bedroom.  Her  fingers  trembled,  she  could  hardly  force  her- 
self to  look  at  the  long,  official  forms  she  had  to  fill  in.  The 
whole  thing  was  so  cruel,  so  impersonal.  Yet  it  must  be 
done. 

*•'  Name  (surname  first)  :   " 

In  a  trembling  hand  she  wrote,  "  Brangwen, —  LTrsula." 

"  Age  and  date  of  birth : " 

After  a  long  time  considering,  she  filled  in  that  line. 

(<  Qualifications,  with  date  of  Examination : " 

With  a  little  pride  she  wrote: 

"  London  Matriculation  Examination." 

"  Previous  experience  and  where  obtained :  " 

Her  heart  sank  as  she  wrote : 

"  None." 

Still  there  was  much  to  answer.  It  took  her  two  hours  to 
•fill  in  the  three  forms.  Then  she  had  to  copy  her  testimonials 
from  her  head-mistress  and  from  the  clergyman. 

At. last,  however,  it  was  finished.  She  had  sealed  the  three 
long  envelopes.  In  the  afternoon  she  went  down  to  Ilkeston 
to  post  them.  She  said  nothing  of  it  all  to  her  parents.  2U 
she  stamped  her  long  letters  and  put  them  into  the  box  at 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  341 

the  main  post-office  she  felt  as  if  already  she  was  out  of  the 
reach  of  her  father  and  mother,  as  if  she  had  connected 
herself  with  the  outer,  greater  world  of  activity,  the  man- 
made  world. 

As  she  returned  home,  she  dreamed  again  in  her  own 
fashion  her  old,  gorgeous  dreams.  One  of  her  applications 
was  to  Gillingham,  in  Kent,  one  to  Kingston-on-Thames,  and 
one  to  Swanwick  in  Derbyshire. 

Gillingham  was  such  a  -lovely  name,  and  Kent  was  the 
Garden  of  England.  So  that,  in  Gillingham,  an  old,  old  vil- 
lage by  the  hopfields,  where  the  sun  shone  softly,  she  came 
out  of  school  in  the  afternoon  into  the  shadow  of  the  plane- 
trees  by  the  gate,  and  turned  down  the  sleepy  road  towards 
the  cottage  where  cornflowers  poked  their  blue  heads  through 
the  old  wooden  fence,  and  phlox  stood  built  up  of  blossom 
beside  the  path. 

A  delicate,  silver-haired  lady  rose  with  delicate,  ivory  hands 
uplifted  as  Ursula  entered  the  room,  and, 

"  Oh,  my  dear,  what  do  you  think !  " 

"What  is  it,  Mrs.  Wetherall?" 

Frederick  had  come  home.  Nay,  his  manly  step  was  heard 
on  the  stair,  she  saw  his  strong  boots,  his  blue  trousers,  his 
uniformed  figure,  and  then  his  face,  clean  and  keen  as  an 
eagle's,  and  his  eyes  lit  up  with  the  glamour  of  strange  seas, 
ah,  strange  seas  that  had  woven  through  his  soul,  as  he  de- 
scended into  the  kitchen. 

This  dream,  with  its  amplifications,  lasted  her  a  mile  of 
walking.  Then  she  went  to  Kingston-on-Thames. 

Kingston-on-Thames  was  an  old  historic  place  just  south 
of  London.  There  lived  the  well-born  dignified  souls  who 
belonged  to  the  metropolis,  but  who  loved  peace.  There  she 
met  a  wonderful  family  of  girls  living  in  a  large  old  Queen 
Anne  house,  whose  lawns  sloped  to  the  river,  and  in  an  at- 
mosphere of  stately  peace  she  found  herself  among  her  soul's 
intimates.  'They  loved  her  as  sisters,  they  shared  with  her 
all  noble  thoughts. 

She  was  happy  again.  In  her  musings  she  spread  her 
poor,  clipped  wings,  and  flew  into  the  pure  empyrean. 

Day  followed  day.  She  did  not  speak  to  her  parents. 
Then  came  the  return  of  her  testimonials  from  Gillingham,. 
She  was  not  wanted,  neither  at  Swanwick.  The  bitterness 
of  rejection  followed  the  sweets  of  hope.  Her  bright  feathers 
were  in  the  dust  again. 


342  THE  RAINBOW 

Then,  suddenly,  after  a  fortnight,  came  an  intimation  from 
Kingston-on-Thames.  She  was  to  appear  at  the  Education 
Office  of  that  town  on  the  following  Thursday,  for  an  inter- 
view with  the  Committee.  Her  heart  stood  still.  She  knew 
she  would  make  the  Committee  accept  her.  Now  she  was 
afraid,  now  that  her  removal  was  imminent.  Her  heart 
quivered  with  fear  and  reluctance.  But  underneath  her  pur- 
pose was  fixed. 

She  passed  shadowily  through  the  day,  unwilling  to  tell 
her  news  to  her  mother,  waiting  for  her  father.  Suspense 
and  fear  were  strong  upon  her.  She  dreaded  going  to  King- 
ston. Her  easy  dreams  disappeared  from  the  grasp  of  reality. 

And  yet,  as  the  afternoon  wore  away,  the  sweetness  of  the 
dream  returned  again.  Kingston-on-Thames  —  there  was 
such  sound  of  dignity  to  her.  The  shadow  of  history  and 
the  glamour  of  stately  progress  enveloped  her.  The  palaces 
would  be  old  and  darkened,  the  place  of  kings  obscured.  Yet 
it  was  a  place  of  kings  for  her  —  Richard  and  Henry  and 
Wolsey  and  Queen  Elizabeth.  She  divined  great  lawns  with 
noble  trees,  and  terraces  whose  steps  the  water  washed  softly, 
where  the  swans  sometimes  came  to  earth.  Still  she  must 
see  the  stately,  gorgeous  barge  of  the  Queen  float  down,  the 
crimson  carpet  put  upon  the  landing  stairs,  the  gentlemen  in 
their  purple-velvet  .cloaks,  bare-headed,  standing  in  the  sun- 
shine grouped  on  either  side  waiting. 

"  Sweet  Thames,  run  softly  till  I  end  my  song/' 

Evening  came,  her  father  returned  home,  sanguine  and 
alert  and  detached  as  ever.  He  was  less  real  than  her  fancies. 
She  waited  whilst  he  ate  his  tea.  He  took  big  mouthfuls, 
big  bites,  and  ate  unconsciously  with  the  same  abandon  an 
animal  gives  to  its  food. 

Immediately  after  tea  he  went  over  to  the  church.  It  was 
choir-practice,  and  he  wanted  to  try  the  tunes  on  his  organ. 

The  latch  of  the  big  door  clicked  loudly  as  she  came  after 
him,  but  the  organ  rolled  more  loudly  still.  He  was  unaware. 
He  was  practising  the  anthem.  She  saw  his  small,  jet-black 
head  and  alert  face  between  the  candle-flames,  his  slim  body 
sagged  on  the  music-stool.  His  face  was  so  luminous  and 
fixed,  the  movements  of  his  limbs  seemed  strange,  apart  from 
him.  The  sound  of  the  organ  seemed  to  belong  to  the  very 
stone  of  the  pillars,  like  sap  running  in  them. 

Then  there  was  a  close  of  music  and  silence. 

"  Father !  "  she  said. 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  34,3 

He  looked  round  as  if  at  an  apparition.  Ursula  stood 
shadowily  within  the  candle-light. 

"  What  now  ?  "  he  said,  not  coming  to  earth. 

It  was  difficult  to  speak  to  him. 

"  I've  got  a  situation/'  she  said,  forcing  herself  to  speak. 

"  You've  got  what  ?  "  he  answered,  unwilling  to  come  out  of 
his  mood  of  organ-playing.  He  closed  the  music  before  him. 

"I've  got  a  situation  to  gp  to." 

Then  he  turned  to  her,  still  abstracted,  unwilling. 

"Oh,  where's  that?"  he  said. 

"  At  Kingston-on-Thames.  I  must  go  on  Thursday  for  an 
interview  with  the  Committee." 

"You  must  go  on  Thursday?" 

"Yes." 

And  she  handed  him  the  letter.  He  read  it  by  the  light 
of  the  candles. 

"Ursula  Brangwen,  Yew  Tree  Cottage,  Cossethay,  Derby- 
shire. 

"  Dear  Madam,  You  are  requested  to  call  at  the  above 
offices  on  Thursday  next,  the  10th,  at  11.30  a.m.,  for  an 
interview  with  the  committee,  referring  to  your  application 
for  the  post  of  assistant  mistress  at  the  Wellingborough  Green 
Schools." 

It  was  very  difficult  for  Brangwen  to  take  in  this  remote 
and  official  information,  glowing  as  he  was  within  the  quiet 
of  his  church  and  his  anthem  music. 

"Well,  you  needn't  bother  me  with  it  now,  need  you?" 
he  said  impatiently,  giving  her  back  the  letter. 
.     "  I've  got  to  go  on  Thursday,"  she  said. 

He  sat  motionless.  Then  he  reached  more  music,  and  there 
was  a  rushing  sound  of  air,  then  a  long,  emphatic  trumpet- 
note  of  the  organ,  as  he  laid  his  hands  on  the  keys.  Ursula 
turned  and  went  away. 

He  tried  to  give  himself  again  to  the  organ.  But  he  could 
not.  He  could  not  get  back.  All  the  time  a  sort  of  string 
was  tugging,  tugging  him  elsewhere,  miserably. 

So  that  when  he  came  into  the  house  after  choir-practice 
his  face  was  dark  and  his  heart  black.  He  said  nothing, 
however,  until  all  the  younger  children  were  in  bed.  Ursula, 
however,  knew  what  was  brewing. 

At  length  he  asked: 

"Where's  that  letter?" 


344  THE  RAINBOW 

She  gave  it  to  him.  He  sat  looking  at  it.  "  You  are  re- 
quested to  call  at  the  above  offices  on  Thursday  next " 

It  was  a  cold,  official  notice  to  Ursula  herself  and  had  nothing 
to  do  with  him.  So !  She  existed  now  as  a  separate  social 
individual.  It  was  for  her  to  answer  this  note,  without  re- 
gard to  him.  He  had  even  no  right  to  interfere.  His  heart 
was  hard  and  angry. 

"  You  had  to  do  it  behind  our  backs,  had  you  ?  "  he  said, 
with  a  sneer.  And  her  heart  leapt  with  hot  pain.  She  knew 
she  was  free  —  she  had  broken  away  from  him.  He  was 
beaten. 

"  You  said,  e  let  her  try/  "  she  retorted,  almost  apologizing 
to  him. 

He  did  not  hear.     He  sat  looking  at  the  letter. 

"  Education  Office,  Kingston-on-Thames  "-  —  and  then  the 
type-written  "  Miss  Ursula  Brangwen,  Yew  Tree  Cottage, 
Cossethay."  It  was  all  so  complete  and  so  final.  He  could 
not  but  feel  the  new  position  Ursula  held,  as  recipient  of  that 
letter.  It  was  an  iron  in  his  soul. 

"Well,"  he  said  at  length,  "you're  not  going." 

Ursula  started  and  could  find  no  words  to  clamour  her 
revolt. 

"If  you  think  you're  going  dancing  off  to  th'  other  side  of 
London,  you're  mistaken." 

"Why  not?"  she  cried,  at  once  hard  fixed  in  her  will  to 
go. 

"  That's  why  not,"  he  said. 

And  there  was  silence  till  Mrs.  Brangwen  came  down- 
stairs. 

"  Look  here,  Anna,"  he  said,  handing  her  the  letter. 

She  put  back  her  head,  seeing  a  type-written  letter,  an- 
ticipating trouble  from  the  outside  world.  There  was  the 
curious,  sliding  motion  of  her  eyes,  as  if  she  shut  off  her 
sentient,  maternal  self,  and  a  kind  of  hard  trance,  meaning- 
less, took  its  place.  Thus,  meaningless,  she  glanced  over  the 
letter,  careful  not  to  take  it  in.  She  apprehended  the  con- 
tents with  her  callous,  superficial  mind.  Her  feeling  self  was 
shut  down. 

"  What  post  is  it?  "  she  asked. 

"  She  wants  to  go  and  be  a  teacher  in  Kingston-on-Thames, 
at  fifty  pounds  a  year.'7. 

"  Oh,  indeed." 

The  mother  spoke  as  if  it  were  a  hostile  fact  concerning 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD 

some  stranger.  She  would  have  let  her  go,  out  of  callousness. 
Mrs.  Brang wen  would  begin  to  grow  up  again  only  with  her 
youngest  child.  Her  eldest  girl  was  in  the  way  now. 

"  She's  not  going  all  that  distance,"  said  the  father. 

"  I  have  to  go  where  they  want  me/'  cried  Ursula.  "  And 
it's  a  good  place  to  go  to." 

"  What  do  you  know  about  the  place  ?  "  said  her  father 
harshly. 

"'And  it  doesn't  matter  whether  they  want  you  or  not, 
if  your  father  says  you  are  not  to  go,"  said  the  mother  calmly. 

How  Ursula  hated  her ! 

"  You  said  I  was  to  try,"  the  girl  cried.  "  Now  I've  got 
a  place  and  I'm  going  to  go." 

"  You're  not  going  all  that  distance,"  said  her  father. 

"Why  don't  you  get  a  place  at  Ilkeston,  where  you  can 
live  at  home  ?  "  asked  Gudrun,  who  hated  conflicts,  who  could 
not  understand  Ursula's  uneasy  way,  yet  who  must  stand  by 
her  sister. 

"  There  aren't  any  places  in  Ilkeston,"  cried  Ursula. 
"  And  I'd  rather  go  right  away." 

"  If  you'd  asked  about  it,  a  place  could  have  been  got  for 
you  in  Ilkeston.  But  you  had  to  play  Miss  High-an'-mighty, 
and  go  your  own  way,"  said  her  father. 

"  I've  no  doubt  you'd  rather  go  right  away,"  said  her 
mother,  very  caustic.  "  And  I've  no  doubt  you'd  find  other 
people  didn't  put  up  with  you  for  very  long  either.  You've 
too  much  opinion  of  yourself  for  your  good." 

Between  the  girl  and  her  mother  was  a  feeling  of  pure 
hatred.  There  came  a  stubborn  silence.  Ursula  knew  she 
must  break  it. 

"Well,  they've  written  to  me,  and  I  s'll  have  to  go,"  she 
said. 

"  Where  will  you  get  the  money  from  ?  "  asked  her  father. 

"  Uncle  Tom  will  give  it  me,"  she  said. 

Again  there  was  silence.     This  time  she  was  triumphant. 

Then  at  length  her  father  lifted  his  head.  His  face  was 
abstracted,  he  seemed  to  be  abstracting  himself,  to  make  a 
pure  statement. 

"  Well,  you're  not  going  all  that  -distance  away,"  he  said. 
"  I'll  ask  Mr.  Burt  about  a  place  here.  I'm  not  going  to  have 
you  by  yourself  at  the  other  side  of  London." 

"  But  I've  got  to  go  to  Kingston,"  said  Ursula.  "  The/ve 
sent  for  me." 


346  THE  RAINBOW 

"  They'll  do  without  you,"  he  said. 

There  was  a  trembling  silence  when  she  was  on  the  point 
uf  tears. 

"  Well,"  she  said,  low  and  tense,  "  you  can  put  me  of 
this,  but  Fm  going  to  have  a  place.  Fm  not  going  to  stop 
at  home." 

"  Nobody  wants  you  to  stop  at  home,"  he  suddenly  shouted 
going  livid  with  rage. 

She  said  no  more.  Her  nature  had  gone  hard  and  smiling 
in  its  own  arrogance,  in  its  own  antagonistic  indifference  t< 
the  rest  of  them.  This  was  the  state  in  which  he  wanted  to 
kill  her.  She  went  singing  into  the  parlour. 

"  C'est  la  mere  Michel  qui  a  perdu  son  chat, 
Qui  cri  par  la  fenetre  qu'est-ce  qui  le  lui  rendra " 

During  the  next  days  Ursula  went  about  bright  and  hard 
singing  to  herself,  making  love  to  the  children,  but  her  sou 
hard  and  cold  with  regard  to  her  parents.  Nothing  more 
was  said.  The  hardness  and  brightness  lasted  for  four  days 
Then  it  began  to  break  up.  So  at  evening  she  said  to  her 
father, 

"  Have  you  spoken  about  a  place  for  me  ?  " 

"  I  spoke  to  Mr.  Burt." 

"What  did  he  say?" 

"  There's  a  committee  meeting  to-morrow.  He'll  tell  me 
on  Friday." 

So  she  waited  till  Friday.  Kingston-on-Thames  had  been 
an  exciting  dream.  Here  she  could  feel  the  hard,  raw  reality 
So  she  knew  that  this  would  come  to  pass.  Because  nothing 
was  ever  fulfilled,  she  found,  except  in  the  hard  limitei 
reality.  She  did  not  want  to  be  a  teacher  in  Ilkeston,  be- 
cause she  knew  Ilkeston,  and  hated  it.  But  she  wanted  to 
be  free,  so  she  must  take  her  freedom  where  she  could. 

On  Friday  her  father  said  there  was  a  place  vacant  in 
Brinsley  Street  school.  This  could  most  probably  be  securec 
for  her,  at  once,  without  the  trouble  of  application. 

Her  heart  halted.  Brinsley  Street  was  a  school  in  a  poor 
quarter,  and  she  had  had  a  taste  of  the  common  children  o: 
Ilkeston.  They  had  shouted  after  her  and  thrown  stones 
Still,  as  a  teacher,  she  would  be  in  authority.  And  it  was  al 
unknown.  She  was  excited.  The  very  forest  of  dry,  sterile 
brick  had  some  fascination  for  her.  It  was  so  hard  and  ugly 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  347 

so  relentlessly  ugly,  it  would  purge  her  of  some  of  her  floating 
sentimentality. 

She  dreamed  how  she  would  make  the  little,  ugly  children 
love  her.  She  would  be  so  personal.  Teachers  were  always 
so  hard  and  impersonal.  There  was  no  vivid  relationship. 
She  would  make  everything  personal  and  vivid,  she  would 
give  herself,  she  would  give,  give,  give  all  her  great  stores  of 
wealth  to  her  children,  she  would  make,  them  so  happy,  and 
they  would  prefer  her  to  any  teacher  on  the  face  of  the  earth. 

At  Christmas  she  would  choose  such  fascinating  Christmas 
cards  for  them,  and  she  would  give  them  such  a  happy  party 
in  one  of  the  class-rooms. 

The  head-master,  Mr.  Harby,  was  a  short,  thick-set,  rather 
common  man,  she  thought.  But  she  would  hold  before  him 
the  light  of  grace  and  refinement,  he  would  have  her  in  such 
high  esteem  before  long.  She  would  be  the  gleaming  sun  of 
the  school,  the  children  would  blossom  like  little  weeds,  the 
teachers  like  tall,  hard  plants  would  burst  into  rare  flower. 

The  Monday  morning  came.  It  was  the  end  of  September, 
and  a  drizzle  of  fine  rain  like  veils  round  her,  making  her 
seem  intimate,  a  world  to  herself.  She  walked  forward  to 
the  new  land.  The  old  was  blotted  out.  The  veil  would  be 
rent  that  hid  the  new  world.  She  was  gripped  hard  with  sus- 
pense as  she  went  down  the  hill  in  the  rain,  carrying  her  din- 
ner-bag. 

Through  the  thin  rain  she  saw  the  town,  a  black,  extensive 
mount.  She  must  enter  in  upon  it.  She  felt  at  once  a  feel- 
ing of  repugnance  and  of  excited  fulfilment.  But  she  shrank. 

She  waited  at  the  terminus  for  the  tram.  Here  it  wa& 
beginning.  Before  her  was  the  station  to  Nottingham, 
whence  Theresa  had  gone  to  school  half  an  hour  before;  be- 
hind her  was  the  little  church  school  she  had  attended  when 
she  was  a  child,  when  her  grandmother  was  alive.  Her  grand  • 
mother  had  been  dead  two  years  now.  There  was  a  strange 
woman  at  the  Marsh,  with  her  Uncle  Fred,  and  a  small  baby. 
Behind  her  was  Cossethay,  and  blackberries  were  ripe  on  the 
hedges. 

As  she  waited  at  the  tram-terminus  she  reverted  swiftly 
to  her  childhood ;  her  teasing  grandfather,  with  his  fair  beard 
and  blue  eyes,  and  his  big,  monumental  body;  he  had  got 
drowned:  her  grandmother,  whom  Ursula  would  sometimes 
say  she  had  loved  more  than  any  one  else  in  the  world:  the 
little  church  school,  the  Phillips  boys ;  one  was  a  soldier  in  the 


348  THE  RAINBOW 

Life  Guards  now,  one  was  a  collier.  With  a  passion  she  clung 
to  the  past. 

But  as  she  dreamed  of  it,  she  heard  the  tram-car  grinding 
round  a  bend,  rumbling  dully,  she  saw  it  draw  into  sight, 
and  hum  nearer.  It  sidled  round  the  loop  at  the  terminus, 
and  came  to  a  standstill,  looming  above  her.  Some  shadowy 
grey  people  stepped  from  the  far  end,  the  conductor  was 
walking  in  the  puddles,  swinging  round  the  pole. 

She  mounted  into  the  wet,  comfortless  tram,  whose  floor 
was  dark  with  wet,  whose  windows  were  all  steamed,  and  she 
sat  in  suspense.  It  had  begun,  her  new  existence. 

One  other  passenger  mounted  —  a  sort  of  charwoman  with 
a  drab,  wet  coat.  Ursula  could  not  bear  the  waiting  of  the 
tram.  The  bell  clanged,  there  was  a  lurch  forward.  The 
car  moved .  cautiously  down  the  wet  street.  She  was  being 
carried  forward,  into  her  new  existence.  Her  heart  burned 
with  pain  and  suspense,  as  if  something  were  cutting  her 
living  tissue. 

Often,  oh  often  the  tram  seemed  to  stop,  and  wet,  cloaked 
people  mounted  and  sat  mute  and  grey  in  stiff  rows  opposite 
her,  their  umbrellas  between  their  knees.  The  windows  of 
the  tram  grew  more  steamy,  opaque.  She  was  shut  in  with 
these  unliving,  spectral  people.  Even  yet  it  did  not  occur 
to  her  that  she  was  one  of  them.  The  conductor  came  down 
issuing  tickets.  Each  little  ring  of  his  clipper  sent  a  pang 
of  dread  through  her.  But  her  ticket  surely  was  different 
from  the  rest. 

They  were  all  going  to  work;  she  also  was  going  to  work. 
Her  ticket  was  the  same.  She  sat  trying  to  fit  in  with  them. 
But  fear  was  at  her  bowels,  she  felt  an  unknown,  terrible 
grip  upon  her. 

At  Bath  Street  she  must  dismount  and  change  trams.  She 
looked  uphill.  It  seemed  to  lead  to  freedom.  She  remem- 
bered the  many  Saturday  afternoons  she  had  walked  up  to 
the  shops.  How  free  and  careless  she  had  been ! 

Ah,  her  tram  was  sliding  gingerly  downhill.  She  dreaded 
every  yard  of  her  conveyance.  The  car  halted,  she  mounted 
hastily. 

She  kept  turning  her  head  as  the  car  ran  on,  because  she 
was  uncertain  of  the  street.  At  last,  her  heart  a  flame  of 
suspense,  trembling,  she  rose.  The  conductor  rang  the  bell 
brusquely. 

She  was  walking  down  a  small,  mean,  wet  street,  empty 


THE  MAN'S  WORLD  34S 

of  people.  The  school  squatted  low  within  its  railed,  asphalt 
yard,  that  shone  black  with  rain.  The  building  was  grimy, 
and  horrible,  dry  plants  were  shadowily  looking  through  the 
windows. 

She  entered  the  arched  doorway  of  the  porch.  The  whole 
place  seemed  to  have  a  threatening  expression,  imitating  the 
church's  architecture,  for  the  purpose  of  domineering,  like  a 
gesture  of  vulgar  authority.  She  saw  that  one  pair  of  feet 
had  paddled  across  the  flagstone  floor  of  the  porch.  The 
place  was  silent,  deserted,  like  an  empty  prison  waiting  the 
return  of  tramping  feet. 

Ursula  went  forward  to  the  teachers'  room  that  burrowed 
in  a  gloomy  hole.  She  knocked  timidly. 

"  Come  in  !  "  called  a  surprised  man's  voice,  as  from  a  prison 
cell.  She  entered  the  dark  little  room  that  never  got  any 
sun.  The  gas  was  lighted  naked  and  raw.  At  the  table  a 
thin  man  in  shirt-sleeves  was  rubbing  a  paper  on  a  jelly- 
tray.  He  looked  up  at  Ursula  with  his  narrow,  sharpi  face, 
said  "  Good  morning,"  then  turned  away  again,  and  stripped 
the  paper  off  the  tray,  glancing  at  the  violet-coloured  writing 
transferred,  before  he  dropped  the  curled  sheet  aside  among 
a  heap. 

Ursula  watched  him  fascinated.  In  the  gaslight  and  gloom 
and  the  narrowness  of  the  room,  all  seemed  unreal. 

"  Isn't  it  a  nasty  morning,"  she  said. 

"  Yes,"  he  said,  "  it's  not  much  of  weather." 

But  in  here  it  seemed  that  neither  morning  nor  weather 
really  existed.  This  place  was  timeless.  He  spoke  in  an 
occupied  voice,  like  an  echo.  Ursula  did  not  know  what  to 
say.  She  took  off  her  waterproof. 

"  Am  I  ea